Uttarakhand battle moves into Parliament

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 25, 2016

Hoping to push legislative agenda: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the media on the opening day of the second half of the Budget session of Parliament, on Monday - Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Congress MPs call it ‘murder of democracy’; Speaker nixes demand for discussion

Day one of the second phase of the Budget Session got off to a stormy start in Parliament with the Congress mounting an offensive on the overnment for imposing President’s rule in Uttarakhand.

The grand old party slammed the Modi-led government for “destabilising” and “toppling” an elected government in Uttarakhand and engineering a crisis in that State through the proclamation of President’s rule.

‘Your own creation’

However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh rejected this charge while making an intervention in the lower House on Monday. Amid applause from the Treasury benches, Singh said that the Uttarakhand and Arunachal crises were not “created by the BJP/NDA, but by the internal crisis in your own party (Congress)”.

Soon after both the Houses assembled on Monday morning, Congress members stormed the Well in both Houses demanding a discussion on the Uttarakhand matter.

Describing it as “murder of democracy”, Congress Party leader Mallikarjun Kharge staged a dharna in the Lower House with Congress President Sonia Gandhi also seen protesting.

‘Matter before court’

However, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the demand for a discussion, stating that the matter was sub-judice. She, however, allowed Kharge to make a mention of it during the zero hour. Kharge accused the Centre of a “series of unconstitutional moves”.

“Attempts are being made to systematically pull down Opposition-ruled State governments to grab power,” he said, accusing the NDA government of “killing the Constitution” even while celebrating Ambedkar’s birth centenary and Constitution Day.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad pressed for a discussion on the matter while lauding the judges of the Uttarakhand High Court for bravely taking on the Centre.

However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley cited rules to buttress his point that a discussion cannot be allowed at pre-proclamation stage.

“A proclamation under Article 356 is placed before the House. It will come up for discussion (under 356 (3)) before the House. This House will have an opportunity to discuss the proclamation. Therefore when the proclamation comes please discuss it. But, today you cannot by an alternative motion anticipate a discussion that is to take place when the proclamation comes,” he told the Upper House.

Jaitley highlighted that sub-rule 7 of rule 169 says that “it shall not anticipate discussion of a matter that is likely to be discussed in the same session. Please discuss 356 when the proclamation comes before the House. Don’t discuss it today”.

Although the government was not willing to oblige the Opposition with a discussion on Uttarakhand, it has agreed to discuss the drought situation on April 27 (Wednesday).

The imposition of President’s rule in Uttarakhand has become a political controversy, especially after the state High Court stayed the decision last week.

Based on the Centre’s plea against that verdict, the apex court had temporarily stayed the High Court’s move. The Supreme Court is again expected to take up the issue on Wednesday.

Modi hopeful

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed hope that the new session that began on Monday would be as “productive” as the Budget session.

Modi said that all the parties had ensured smooth running of Parliament and that many important decisions were taken in the first part of Budget session.

Published on April 25, 2016
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