On a day a united Opposition staged a protest outside the Parliament House seeking a debate and a probe into the allegations of fraud and stock manipulation against Adani Group, both Houses of Parliament witnessed disruptions and repeated adjournments without transacting any major legislative business.
Inside the Lok Sabha, the Opposition slammed the government calling it “Adani sarkar” and demanded to stop all other proceedings to discuss the allegation by a short seller against Gautam Adani’s firms. The Opposition members belonging to the Congress, DMK, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS), NCP and Left parties came to the well of the House in the Question Hour itself while the TMC members were protesting near their seats.
Monday was the third consecutive day in the ongoing Budget session when the Opposition stalled the proceedings.
Alleging that the meltdown in Adani Group shares is a scam that involves common people’s money as public sector LIC and SBI have invested in them, the Opposition asked for a JPC probe into the allegations. Opposition MPs also held a protest demonstration in front of the Gandhi statue holding a banner that said: “We demand a JPC or SC-monitored probe on Adani scandal”. MPs of the Congress, NCP, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), the Left, DMK and BRS from both Houses attended the protest.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had called a meeting of the Opposition earlier to discuss the strategies. Among the parties that participated in the meeting held in the chamber of Kharge were the Congress, DMK, NCP, BRS, JDU, SP, CPM, CPI, JMM, RLD, RSP, AAP, IUML, RJD and Shiv Sena. TMC’s Mahua Moitra, however, was present in the protest before the Gandhi statue.
In the Lok Sabha, as the House met, Speaker Om Birla introduced the visiting parliamentary delegation from Bhutan to the House. As soon as he took his seat, Opposition leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and DMK’s T R Baalu were waiting to bring up the issue on the floor of the House. Chowdhury was heard saying the Opposition wants a statement from the government and a JPC probe into the allegation. As the Speaker tried to take up the Question Hour, Congress and DMK MPs rushed to the well of the House shouting slogans, such as “Break the silence” and “Stop the proceedings to discuss”.
The Speaker, however, urged them to go back to their seats and participate in the debate. “This is not good. Sloganeering is against the dignity of the House. People have elected you to raise their issues in Parliament but you are not interested in participating in debate,” he said. He repeatedly appealed to the MPs to return to their seats as he was “ready to allow any discussion”, but the MPs persisted that the House should take up the adjournment motion notices given by them and discuss the issue immediately. “You come to my chamber and we will fix time to discuss any issue you want,” Birla said.
“The House is for debate and discussions. The way you are disrupting the house is not good…Have people elected you for sloganeering in Parliament? You have ruled this country for a long time. Such behaviour is not good on your part,” he said.
He adjourned the proceedings till 2pm and when the House reassembled, the Opposition parties continued their protests. The Speaker also disallowed all the adjournment motions proposed by several Opposition members. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi requested them to allow the tradition of discussing the President’s address.
“I request you to let the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address be allowed to take place as it is part of Parliamentary convention. Whatever you want to say you can say during the debate and the government will reply,” Joshi said, adding that the government’s stand has been stated by the Finance Minister and is in public domain.
The Rajya Sabha, too, could not transact any business owing to Opposition protests. Cutting across party lines as many as 10 Opposition members, among them Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress’s Syed Nasir Hussain, Imran Pratapgarhi, Pramod Tiwari, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, BRS’s K Keshava Rao, CPI’s Binoy Biswam and Sandosh Kumar P and CPM’s Elamaram Kareem had given notices seeking suspension of all business to discuss the Adani affair.
Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar rejected the notices saying they were not in conformity with the rule and directions of the Chair, triggering commotion. Firm on his stand, Dhankhar said “to generate optical impressions, we cannot allow rules to be derailed.”
“I have repeatedly indicated the stand, which is carefully thought out and which is in the shape of directions. The entire nation is looking at us. They want things in the House to be regulated as per law and Constitution and the deliberations to be effective… We are not acting in accordance with what we are expected to do,” he said.
Invoking democracy and the Constitution, he appealed to the MPs to allow the House to function and adjourned the House till 2pm.
Similar scenes played out when the House reassembled at 2pm. Before adjourning the House for the day, the Chairman said: “I have no other option and no other methodology or talent to convey this. I find that we must continue with our listed business… The House knows, the illustrious members of the House know that the listed business affords them all opportunity of expression. It defies logical reason why we are not availing it.”