Oppn keeps the heat on, stalls both Houses
A combined Opposition stalled Parliament for the second day on Friday over the WikiLeaks expose in the alleged 2008 'cash-for-votes' scandal, with the BJP deciding to move a privilege motion against the Prime Minister.delhi Updated: Mar 19, 2011 00:43 IST
A combined Opposition stalled Parliament for the second day on Friday over the WikiLeaks expose in the alleged 2008 'cash-for-votes' scandal, with the BJP deciding to move a privilege motion against the Prime Minister.
Manmohan Singh, the party said, "misled" Parliament by saying no bribe was paid to MPs ahead of the July 2008 trust vote.
This, it alleged, was contradictory to the findings of a parliamentary committee.
Senior BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley alleged "it has now been conclusively established that MPs were bribed" to win the confidence vote.
"The Prime Minister and the UPA government were principal beneficiaries of cross-voting..." Swaraj later said at a press conference.
"The Prime Minister says he was not aware (of bribe being paid), but he is definitely a beneficiary. Under the law of jurisprudence, being a beneficiary of this offence he is equally liable," she said.
Both the Houses failed to conduct business as an aggressive Opposition disrupted proceedings - leading to repeated adjournments.
Shortly after the Lok Sabha assembled, Swaraj, leader of the Opposition, was up on her feet, saying after the expose, the "government had lost its moral right to rule".
Her demand for a statement from the PM drew support from the entire Opposition, which shouted slogans: "Call the PM; the PM must come to the house". Amid the din, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House until 2pm.
As soon as the PM finished making his statement in the Lok Sabha, which had assembled after lunch, the Opposition members demanded clarifications on the statement but wasn't allowed by the chair. This led to another adjournment.
The House was adjourned for the day shortly after having been convened at 3.30pm, when senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha sought to speak on the PM's statement.
Jagdambika Pal and other Congress members were up on their feet, saying the chair had ruled that clarifications could not be sought on the PM's statement.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha. The Opposition crippled the House as it vociferously sought a clarification on the statement made by the Prime Minister.
While Rajya Sabha chairperson Hamid Ansari cited a rule that does not permit any clarification on a government statement made on demand of the members, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley countered, saying the unprecedented rule could not be invoked to shield the PM.
"There has been a consistent practice in this House that clarifications are sought without exception. Why is that convention being broken today?" Jaitley asked.
"What has happened between last week and today? The PM is answerable to Parliament."
The BJP leader said the Opposition could not be gagged in this manner.
Explaining why clarifications could not be sought, Ansari said, "There is an earlier ruling No 173, of 24 April, 1997, which is clear."
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury asked why the rule was being invoked after a gap of 14 years.