Wikileaks expose disrupts Parliament proceedings

PTI New Delhi | Updated on March 18, 2011 Published on March 18, 2011

parliament   -  Business Line

The Wikileaks expose on the alleged ‘cash-for-votes’ scam in 2008 today disrupted Parliament proceedings, as a united Opposition demanded a clarification from the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on the issue.

Soon after the Lok Sabha assembled, the Speaker, Ms Meira Kumar, asked the Leader of the Opposition, Ms Sushma Swaraj, to move a calling attention on the problems being faced by Indian fishermen due to frequent attacks by the Srilankan Navy.

However, Ms Swaraj said “the government has lost its moral right to rule” after the expose of the contents of the American diplomatic cables alleging that the UPA-I Government had bribed MPs to win the 2008 trust vote after the Left parties withdrew support on the Indo-US nuclear deal....

(hence) it is not possible to call the attention of any minister of this government.” Ms Swaraj demanded a statement from the Prime Minister.

Rising in her support, the BJP Parliamentary party chief, Mr L.K. Advani, pointed out that on Thursday also when Ms Swaraj started her speech, “the entire Treasury Bench was on its feet” trying to prevent her from speaking.

Countering them, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr P.K. Bansal, strongly objected to Ms Swaraj raising the Wikileaks issue instead of calling attention of the government on the issue of fishermen listed by her.

“I agree that the Leader of the Opposition has the right to raise any issue in the House, but during calling attention, she should stick to the subject,” Mr Bansal said.

Ms Swaraj again demanded that the Prime Minister should come to the House and make a statement. “The entire country is waiting for the Prime Minister to make a statement and explain. This is disrespect to the House.”

The entire Opposition was on its feet and shouted slogans — ‘Call the PM’ and ‘PM come to the House’. This led the Speaker to adjourn the House till 12.15 p.m.

In the Rajya Sabha, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Arun Jaitley, wanted to speak on the issue, but was not allowed by Congress members, who vociferously objected to the BJP disrupting the proceedings for the last few days.

Amid din, the Deputy Chairman, Mr K. Rahman Khan, adjourned the House first for 15 minutes and then till 2.30 p.m.

As soon as the Rajya Sabha assembled for the day, Mr Jaitley wanted to speak but the Congress members, including Mr Mani Shanker Aiyer, Mr E. Sudarshan Natchiappan and Mr Saifuddin Soz and the DMK member Mr K.P. Ramalingam were on their feet and did not allow him to air his views.

They argued that the scheduled discussion on Tribal Affairs Ministry must be taken up.

Mr Jaitley said he wanted to give a suggestion so that the House could run.

The Deputy Chairman then said that as per convention, whenever the Leader of the Opposition wanted to speak, he should be given a chance. But Mr Khan’s request went unheeded and the Congress went on disallowing Mr Jaitley to speak.

With both sides unrelenting, the Chair adjourned the House for 15 minutes.

When the House reassembled, the same scenario prevailed with the Tribal Affairs Minister, Mr Kantilal Bhuria, saying that the BJP was not interested in the discussion on tribals.

“You are against adivasis. The entire country is watching,” he said.

Mr Jaitley said, “We want the House to run. Let the Prime Minister come and make a statement.” As the din continued, the Chair adjourned the House till 2.30 p.m.

Published on March 18, 2011
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