BJP, Congress in blame game for washout of Parliament proceedings

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Mar 13, 2018

Finance Bill remains un-scrutinised

A blame-game ensued between the BJP and the Congress over the total washout of Parliament proceedings for the seventh consecutive day as the Finance Bill remains un-scrutinised. The prospect of all demands for grants being guillotined is rising with each passing day.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah presided over the BJP’s weekly parliamentary party meeting on Tuesday morning. Afterwards, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar concluded that the logjam in the two Houses is entirely due to the Congress’ “undemocratic mindset”.

‘Bulldosed’

The Congress, on its part, spearheaded the Opposition’s campaign to allege that it is, in fact, the government that wants the Finance Bill to be “bulldosed” without parliamentary scrutiny. In a letter to the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Opposition MPs expressed their “strong protest” against the fact that the “government is hell-bent on passing the entire (Finance) Bill without proper scrutiny”.

Meanwhile, raucous continued in both Houses of Parliament with intermittent adjournments.

The key Finance Bill 2018-19 could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha as protests by Opposition parties and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) over issues such as bank scams and special status demand for Andhra Pradesh continued.

Both Question Hour and Zero Hour were washed out as scores of members from the TDP, Congress, AIADMK, TRS and Trinamool Congress trooped into the Well, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings first for an hour. The Lok Sabha was scheduled to take up the Finance Bill 2018-19 and Appropriation Bills for FY2017-18 and 2018-19.

When the House reassembled at noon, the protests continued and no legislative business could be taken up. Members from the TDP, which quit the central government last week but remains part of the ruling NDA, were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh. They were holding placards which read ‘Follow Alliance Dharma’.

In the Rajya Sabha too, proceedings were washed as protests by members including those from NDA allies continued on various issues such as the ₹12,700-crore fraud in Punjab National Bank and special status demand for Andhra Pradesh. The unabated protests forced the adjournment of the House about 15 minutes after it had assembled, till 2 pm.

When it re-assembled at 2 pm, the protesting MPs, including those from the TDP, trooped into the Well raising slogans and displaying placards. Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who was in the Chair, tried to take up a calling-attention motion on strategic storage of crude oil and petroleum products in the country and asked Chunibhai Kanjibhai Gohel of the BJP to initiate the discussion.

However, the members in the Well, including those from the TDP who were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh and the AIADMK who were seeking immediate setting up of Cauvery River Management Board, continued to raise slogans and display placards.

“If this is the way MPs are behaving, I will adjourn the House. She (a TDP) member is showing a placard which is against the rule... This is misbehaviour. I don’t agree with this,” he said before adjourning the proceedings for the day.

While Parliament continued to be disrupted, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ananth Kumar mounted an attack on the Congress, saying the party which imposed the Emergency has continued to harbour the same mindset all through.

“It continues to have a similar repressive mindset toward democracy. The Congress is not letting Parliament function. It is our duty to let it work and the government has been doing everything to ensure it happens,” the Minister said.

Simultaneously, in their letter to the Lok Sabha Speaker, Lok Sabha MPs KC Venugopal of the Congress, N K Premachandran of the RSP, Mohammad Salim of the CPI(M), ET Mohammad Basheer of the IUML, Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party et al, maintained that the Finance Bill and the date and time of Guillotine was included on Tuesday’s list of business without informing the Opposition.

“As per parliamentary practices, without deciding/informing all party leaders, to include the date and time of Guillotine and passing of Finance Bill in the List of Business is quite unusual. This shows the government’s arrogance and unilateral move to bulldose all the financial business without discussing them on the floor of the House… The government is hell-bent on passing the entire Bill without proper scrutiny,” the Opposition MPs told the Speaker, asking for her intervention.

Published on March 13, 2018
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