Parliament disrupted as Congress, government sparring intensifies
New Delhi, March 6 (IANS) The Opposition continued to force adjournments of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for the second day on Tuesday over the Rs 12,600 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud with differences cropping up between the government and the Congress in the lower house over the rule under which the issue should be discussed as also the wording of the motion.
Outside the house, Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar accused the Congress of running away from debate on the issue as there were "skeletons in the cupboard" of the UPA regime.
A combination of reasons resulted in uproar in the Lok Sabha, which witnessed a huge din in the morning with BJP's ally Shiv Sena joining the protest near the Speaker's podium demanding classical status for Marathi. Another BJP ally TDP continued its protest over its demand for special status for Andhra Pradesh. AIADMK members were also near the podium demanding constitution of a Cauvery Management Board.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House as she was not able to proceed with the Question Hour.
When the house met at noon amidst similar scenes, Kumar said the discussion of the irregularities in banking sector had been listed in the business of the day following notice given by Congress members and the Finance Minister will reply to the debate.
"I don't understand why my friends from Congress are agitated. They wanted discussion on irregularities in banking, we are ready for that," he said.
"Why are they afraid, why are they running away. Those who have committed crime should be punished. In all these years, whatever has happened should be discussed. The crimes and irregularities committed during the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government, that should also be discussed," he said.
There was "no question" of saving anyone, the minister said.
The motion under Rule 193 read: "A discussion on alleged systemic irregularities in banking sector over the years and its impact on Indian economy."
However, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded discussion under rules that entail voting.
He said the party wants discussion on financial default of crores of rupees in various nationalised banks which resulted in the loot of public money.
He said the perpetrators were "allowed to leave (India) despite complaints against them".
With order not being restored, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.
Later, talking to reporters, Kharge said that the wording of the motion under Rule 193 was not the same as given in their notice.
He said the party would give another notice of adjournment motion.
Kharge said if the government wanted to discuss the past irregularities in banks, it should do it separately. He said the party was raising "recent occurrences of public importance" through its adjournment notice and other opposition parties were on board on the issue."
"Bring our issue in the debate," he said.
Ananth Kumar later told reporters that the Congress demand for discussion under a rule that entails voting came as an "afterthought" following the return of its President Rahul Gandhi from Italy.
"They are scared of debate. Many skeletons of banking scam will tumble out of the UPA regime. They don't want it to be discussed. They want to hide things. We want discussion, they do not want it," he said.
Referring to Congress members earlier giving notice under rule 193, which does not entail voting, he said: "What is the enlightenment you got today? Why this sudden change of heart...."
He said the Congress apparently had objection to the use of "over the years" in the motion decided under Rule 193.
"Why should there be objection. Why you want to restrict the debate to one individual. Why you want to restrict the period of discussion. You can't say NPAs started in 2014, Karti Chidambaram started in 2014, PNB issue started in 2014," he said.
In the Rajya Sabha, opposition protests continued whenever the House met and it was finally adjourned for the day in the post-lunch session after several adjournments.
Like in the Lok Sabha, TDP members voiced their demands concerning Andhra Pradesh in the Upper House also.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu first adjourned the House till 11.30 a.m. and asked the party leaders to meet him in his chamber.
However, the meeting did not seem to be fruitful as the opposition MPs were on their feet. Naidu expressed his displeasure at the conduct of the MPs and again adjourned the House till 2 p.m.
When the House met again the scene was no different.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said the government was ready for a discussion on any issue and urged the members to return to their seats. As the din continued, the House was adjourned till 3.30 p.m and later for the day.
Tuesday was the second day of the second half of the Budget session, which will conclude on April 6.