Winter session of Parliament appears headed for washout
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha continued to be deadlocked over the way a debate should take place on demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8.
While maintaining attack on the government over demonetisation, the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on Friday created disruptions by raising the issue of slashing of import duty on wheat from 10 per cent to nil. The House was, however, finally adjourned for the day because of lack of quorum.
Ever since the session began on November 16, the Lok Sabha has managed to conduct only two legislative actions -- passage of Income Tax amendment bill and approval of Supplementary Demand for Grants -- that too amid din and without much debate. The Rajya Sabha has functioned normally only on the first day of the session when the debate on demonetisation was initiated and held for about 5 hours. With a four-day holiday in between, the session has only three working days left before it concludes on December 16.
In the Lok Sabha, the stand-off over demonetisation intensified on Friday with the government hitting back at agitating Opposition and demanding its apology for paralysing Parliament, citing the adverse comments by President Pranab Mukherjee over disruptions.
As soon as the House assembled for the day at 1100 hours, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge rose to make some points but BJP members latched on to the President’s obervations made on Thursday, to target the opposition party.
Soon, a verbal spat broke out between the two sides and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till 1130 hours. When the House met again, Kharge said the Opposition was ready for debating demonetisation and has been continuously requesting for it. “We are ready for debate on demonetisation and its repercussions,” he said. However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar immediately shot back saying
the Opposition has disrupted the House for 16 days and held it to ransom and they must tender an apology. “For 16 days they have disrupted the House and held it hostage. Majority wanted to debate. But Congress, TMC and Left members are not allowing the House to function. The situation has reached such a stage that the President had to speak against the disruption. They must tender apology to the people of the country,” he said.