New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s political problems may be compounded with Parliament’s monsoon session starting on a stormy note, and finance minister P. Chidambaram promising that the controversial audit reports on the allocation of coal blocks and Delhi airport will be tabled during the month-long session.

The Lok Sabha saw unruly scenes and a rare exhibition of anger by Congress president Sonia Gandhi as the treasury benches took strong exception to a remark made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, who initiated a debate on an adjournment motion on the Assam violence.

Advani’s remarks that “UPA-2 is an illegitimate government" triggered vehement protests from the treasury benches. A visibly furious Gandhi prompted party members of Parliament (MPs) to protest. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed Advani’s remark as “disgraceful and unfortunate". Agitated over the treasury benches’ initial refusal to accept Advani’s offer to withdraw his remarks, the BJP leaders warned the session would not function smoothly.

Political observers have said the UPA government, which has listed 31 Bills for passage in this session, may not be able to cash in on its advantage in numbers in the Lok Sabha for pushing its reform agenda due to its not-so-friendly allies.

Although they backed UPA candidates in the recent presidential and vice presidential elections, key allies such as the Trinamool Congress have raised objections against several reform initiatives such as the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill and foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned immediately after it met on Wednesday with the opposition parties storming the central podium of the House demanding the suspension of question hour to discuss an adjournment motion—a motion to debate an issue setting aside all other business—on violence in Assam. When the House met at noon, Advani initiated the debate, but his remarks set off another uproar. He said his earlier remark hadn’t referred to the 2009 election that brought UPA back to power but a July 2008 trust vote in which some BJP MPs displayed cash inside the House, alleging it to be a bribe for voting in favour of the government. The explanation provoked fury among the Congress and its allies.

Outside Parliament, Congress party general secretary Rahul Gandhi said, “He (Advani) is a senior person. He knows what he speaks. I won’t like to comment on it."

Advani’s remarks were later removed from the record and the House debated the adjournment motion. The opposition alleged both the central and state governments failed to protect the lives of people in Assam, where communal clashes led to 73 people dying and thousands being displaced.

The tension between the ruling and opposition benches is likely to deepen over the monsoon session that began Wednesday and is scheduled to end on 7 September.

The tabling of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports may provide further ammunition to the opposition.

“This morning we have issued notice to both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha requesting the speaker and the chairman to fix a date to lay the reports on the table of both the Houses simultaneously," Chidambaram told reporters. “Once they give us a date, we will lay all the three reports. There is no delay at all."

The CAG report on allocation of coal blocks between 2004 and 2009 without auctions is expected to peg the value of so-called undue benefits the government extended to private entities alone at more than 1.8 trillion, media reports said. The government had denied it.

PTI contributed to this story.

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