New Delhi: An aggressive Opposition cornered the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in Parliament on Tuesday, over soaring prices of food and essential items.
Both Houses were adjourned after demands that the debate be followed by a vote.
Opposition parties said they will not disrupt the tabling of the Railway Budget on Wednesday and the Union Budget on Friday. But leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, said her Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would move a fresh adjournment motion on Wednesday.
The BJP and Left parties, along with three parties that support the UPA from the outside—the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party—came down heavily on the government. None of its allies was seen defending the government in the Lok Sabha.
The Opposition demanded that discussions be held under Rule 193 in the Lok Sabha and under Rules 167 and 168 in the Rajya Sabha—which allow participants to vote in the end. But the government refused, leading to adjournments.
“The government is apprehensive about the support of its own allies,” said S.S. Ahluwalia, deputy leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, explaining why the UPA did not want a vote. “We have had eight discussions in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on the issue of price rise in the last six years. This time we want to censure the government with a Parliament referendum on the issue and nothing less would suffice.”
“Price rise is an issue which has to be discussed, but according to rules,” said parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, while rejecting Swaraj’s demand for a debate under Rule 193.
Subrata Mukherjee, professor of political science at Delhi University, said a hostile House would put the Congress on the mat during Budget presentations.
“Lack of cohesion and political culture of debating among alliance partners (of the UPA), the growing tendency of not following conventions, not respecting order and procedures inside the House continue to be bad news for the ruling party,” Mukherjee said.
Santosh K. Joy contributed to this story.