Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day on Thursday following persistent commotion raised by the opposition MPs who were demanding a joint parliamentary committee to examine the Indo-US nuclear deal.
The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, which met at 2 pm after two adjournments, were adjourned for the day with the opposition National Democratic Alliance continuing to disrupt proceedings. The houses were first adjourned till 12 noon, and then again till 2 pm.
In the Lok Sabha, the government passed two bills despite the din - the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill 2007 and the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2007 which makes it mandatory for companies that undertake mergers and acquisitions in India and overseas to inform the competition committee. The government also tabled the papers listed in Thursday's business.
Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar also tabled a statement in response to a calling attention motion on the need to strengthen Panchayati Raj institutions financially in order to fulfil the constitutional obligations and discharge the duties effectively.
The bills were passed by a voice vote.
The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena thronged near the speaker's podium shouting "JPC lao, desh bachao" (bring the JPC and save the country).
In the morning when the Lok Sabha met, newly-elected Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) MP from Jamshedpur Suman Mahto, wife of slain MP Sunil Mahto, was administered the oath.
Thereafter, MPs belonging to Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party were on their feet demanding the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to go into the nuclear agreement.
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee pleaded with them to raise the issue after question hour, but the MPs continued to make noise. The speaker then adjourned the house at 11.05 am till noon. When the house met, he adjourned it till 2 pm and then for the day.
The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) MPs had earlier held a meeting and decided to continue disruption of house proceedings to press their demand for dismantling of the 15-member United Progressive Alliance-Left panel to look into the deal and to have a JPC instead.
In the Rajya Sabha, the much-awaited debate on the 123 agreement between India and United States was stalled for the same reason, with the opposition demanding a JPC to examine the deal.
The Rajya Sabha agenda papers for Thursday listed the names of 40 members of the house, including leaders like Janata Dal-United president Sharad Yadav, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie who are leading the BJP charge on the nuclear deal, as also Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Jaswant Singh, Telugu Desam Party member Lal Jan Basha, Samajwadi Party member Shahid Siddiqui and members of the Left as well as Congress and those demanding the "short duration discussion".
Listing the names it said, "to raise a discussion on the situation arising out of the Indo-US Nuclear Agreement".
But the moment the house met, the BJP and AIADMK members walked towards the speaker's podium raising slogans and in a short while the chairman adjourned it till 12 noon. At noon, the house met again and before Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan could even sit down, the opposition thronged into the podium, raising slogans like, "We want JPC, JPC lao desh bachao (form the JPC to save the country) and "Congress ne kya kiya, desh ko bech diya" (What did the Congress do, sold off the nation).
Khan persisted with the business of laying the day's papers despite the din. But finally around 12.15 p.m., he adjourned the upper house for the post-lunch session and later for the day.
Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani had indicated a day earlier on behalf of the NDA and United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) the futility of the debate, saying, "The government has already pre-empted the debate". Therefore the developments of the day did not surprise many.
And predictably the opposition did not allow the parliament to run even in the post-lunch session.
The government too seemed reconciled to having no more discussions on the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal in the two houses of parliament. But on its part it doesn't want to take the blame for adjourning parliament without listing the urgent issues for discussion. So, the government too had prepared itself for this.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi had indicated the government's intent to put the nuclear issue on the agenda Thursday morning.
The impasse is likely to lead to an early winding up of the two houses of parliament. But since the government does not want to be seen shying away from any of the contentious issues raised by the members, it may go through the motions and list all the issues demanded by the opposition and the Left, as hinted by Dasmunsi a day earlier.
The government plans to list the debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal for Monday and since the opposition may not allow the discussion, after that the government may announce adjourning of parliament sine die.