The Winter Session of Parliament is headed for a near-washout as no substantial discussion or debate took place on Thursday. Opposition political parties continued to protest over demonetisation demanding a discussion in the House.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the leaders of 14 other Opposition parties will march from Parliament to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday to protest against the government’s decision to yank Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 rupee notes and update him on what they describe as the unrelenting hardship caused to people by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden demonetisation move last month.
Friday is the last day of Parliament’s Winter Session, which has seen continuous disruptions and little work done. The government and Opposition have blamed the washout on each other.
With only one day left, the Session is on the verge of a washout as it failed to transact any business again on Thursday due to the standoff between the government and Opposition over demonetisation, AgustaWestland scam and a few other issues. Continuous disruptions have marred this Session with both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessing a deadlock that began with the start of the session on November 16 over the manner in which a debate should be held on demonetisation and related aspects.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday said the government is “running away” from discussion on demonetisation in Parliament and raking up issues like AgustaWestland to divert the issue of note ban. “They (members of Treasury benches) are bringing big big posters of AgustaWest…in the House. What is this? This is for diverting the issue of demonetisation. They are trying one or other excuse for adjourning the House,” he said in Parliament premises in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded farm loan waiver from the government in order to provide some respite to the farmers hit by demonetisation. Meanwhile, the ruling benches raised allegations of bribery in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, claiming that some leaders in the UPA regime had received money in the deal. Azad said: “It is the ruling party which is disrupting the House… in both Houses (of Parliament), it is the ruling party which is not allowing Parliament to function. It is for the first time in the history of independent India that the ruling party is not allowing the House to function.”
Mayawati , Sitaram Yechury and Derek O’Brien too tried to make their points heard. However, neither of them could be heard due to pandemonium. At this point, Congress members trooped into the Well of the House shouting slogans demanding waiver of farm loans. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien was unable to restore order in the House and was forced to adjourn the proceedings.
In Lok Sabha, situation was no different. MPs from the Congress, TMC and Left parties, raised slogans demanding discussion on demonetisation. In return, members from the Treasury brought up the AgustaWestland helicopter deal waving copies of reports in a newspaper. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s repeated pleas for order went unheard. Referring to the Opposition as well as the Treasury benches, she said it was not right for both sides to show the papers. “You (people) are responsible MPs… This is very bad,” Mahajan said.
Shortly after an exasperated 89-year-old Advani gave vent to his anguish with his remark “I feel like resigning” on the penultimate day, the rival parties sparred over who should take the blame for the virtual washout of both the Houses.
Hours after the BJP veteran expressed his anguish, Sumitra Mahajan, at a function later in the day said she understands his “pain” and decried the disturbances caused by members. “I understand Advaniji’s pain,” Mahajan said while releasing a book on former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar.
However, amid the ruckus, one question was taken up during Question Hour. Apart from this, the House also condoled the death of two former members — N Anbuchezhian and P V Rajeshwar Rao.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi were also present in the House.