Oppn stalls RS proceedings to press for PM's presence
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the proceedings till noon after the Opposition did not agree to his suggestion of resuming debate on hardships caused by banning of 500 and 1000 rupee notes and the treasury benches refusing to allow Singh to speak.
Soon after listed papers were laid and Zero Hour began, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the former Prime Minister would like to speak, a request that Kurien agreed to.
However, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley strongly objected to Singh being given an opportunity to speak outside the debate on the demonetisation issue.
Singh, he said, can participate after the debate, which started on the opening day of the Winter Session of Parliament on November 16, resumes.
"If there is no debate, nobody from the Opposition should be allowed to speak," he said.
Jaitley said Zero Hour, where members are allowed to raise matters of public importance, cannot be allowed to be used as an opportunity to raise demonetisation issue.
"Let Opposition resume the debate and let Dr Manmohan Singh speak in that debate," he said.
Naresh Agarwal (SP) pressed for admission of his notice under Rule 267 suspension of business to discuss the demonetisation issue, during which Prime Minister should be present and also reply to it.
Kurien said no conditions can be put in this notice and disallowed it, saying it was not drawn in the proper format.
Jaitley cited the rule book to say that the House cannot take up another notice under rule 267 on the subject that has been debated in the House.
Derek O'Brien (TMC) wanted former Prime Minister to be allowed to speak and the Chair should take a sense of the House on the issue, a debate that Jaitley strongly objected saying Singh can speak as part of discussion.
Kurien said he had allowed Singh to speak. "He can speak.
I have no problem. It is Zero Hour. I allowed him to speak."
Singh was however not allowed to speak as members of the ruling side shouted slogans for resumption of the debate.