New Delhi: The second leg of the budget session of Parliament seemed to be heading for a washout as both the Houses failed to transact any business on the 16th straight day on Tuesday due to adjournments forced by noisy protests by some parties.
The Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned for the day about 20 minutes after it had assembled, also saw a unique protest by opposition parties, whose members remained seated for over 30 minutes even after chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu called it a day and left the House.
The second part of this session has 22 sittings and is scheduled to conclude on 6 April. Six more sittings are slated.
The Lok Sabha again failed to take up notices for no-confidence motion against the government after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the House was not in order and adjourned proceedings, amid noisy protests over various issues.
In a novel way to convey that they have enough numbers to initiate the no-confidence motion, members of the Congress, Left and some other parties displayed blue-coloured placards, each with a circled number—from 1 to 80—along with the words ‘For no-confidence’.
At least 50 members need to support a no-confidence notice for the House to accept it and start a debate. When the Lower House met at noon after the first adjournment, AIADMK members trooped into the Well shouting slogans and demanding immediate constitution of the Cauvery river management board.
Many other Opposition members were seen demanding that the notices for no-confidence motion be taken up. Mahajan told the House that she has received notices for no-confidence motion from members of various parties and added that she was duty-bound to take them up. However, she decided not to take up the notices saying the House was not in order.
Unless the House is in order, “I will not be in a position" to take up notices, Mahajan said and requested the protesting members to return to their seats. Members from the Congress, the Left, the TDP and some other parties stood up holding the blue placards, apparently to show her that there were 80 members supporting the no-confidence motion.
Amid the din, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said the government was ready for any discussion and sought to blame the Congress for the proceedings not moving ahead.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge blamed the government for the impasse, saying it does not want discussion on the issue and asserted “We are ready for discussion." He later claimed that the at least 80 MPs were supporting the motion.
AIADMK and Congress members also got into heated exchanges even after the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day, apparently over remarks by Congress MP K. C. Venugopal that the Tamil Nadu party was “match fixing with the BJP" in not allowing the House to function and taking up the no-confidence motion.
The Rajya Sabha too witnessed similar scenes and could not bid farewell to 40 retiring MPs today or transact any business for the 16th day in a row as the chairman adjourned the House for the day after AIADMK MPs came into the Well protesting over the Cauvery issue.
After laying of the listed papers, Naidu said the House should bid farewell to retiring MPs, listen to their experiences and thanking them for their contributions. However, AIADMK members continued to raise slogans from the Well and were soon joined by the TDP.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present in the House. “We don’t have the courtesy even for retiring members," Naidu remarked as he asked protesting members to go back to their seats.
As his appeal went unheeded, Naidu asked both Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley: “Are we so helpless?"
To this, Azad said the House should function, while minister of state for parliamentary affair Vijay Goel appealed to the protesting MPs to let the House function. As the AIADMK and the TDP did not relent, Naidu adjourned the House for 15 minutes and asked leaders of different political parties to meet him in his chamber.
When the House reassembled, he again appealed for order. “This is a very important occasion...40 members are retiring. We want to give them farewell," Naidu said, asking members to give the farewell in a “peaceful and dignified" manner.
As the ruling party from Tamil Nadu continued protest, Naidu warned that there were two options. One is to name the protesting members and take action against them, or adjourn the House and deprive the retiring members from sharing their experiences.
Maitreyan sought the Prime Minister’s intervention on their demand for immediate setting up of the Cauvery river water management board. As the AIADMK did not yield to his requests, an angry Naidu abruptly adjourned the House for the day, taking opposition members by surprise.
After the adjournment of the House for the day, Azad was heard urging members to remain seated. Most of the opposition members, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remained seated till noon, almost 30 minutes after the chairman had called it a day.
Members from treasury benches too remained in the House for quite some time. The Prime Minister left soon after the adjournment. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley was seen holding discussion with several opposition members, including Azad. The opposition members were apparently unhappy with the adjournment.