The deadlock in parliament over the rising prices of essential commodities continued on Thursday with a determined opposition stalling both houses and no business being transacted for the third working day of the monsoon session.
Opposition parties across the spectrum protested both inside and outside the house.
A day after Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar rejected the opposition demand for debating the issue as an adjournment motion that entails voting, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders L.K. Advani, Nitin Gadkari and Sushma Swaraj, among others, took the battle to the Rashtrapati Bhavan seeking President Pratibha Patil's intervention.
Non-National Democratic Alliance (NDA) opposition parties chose to demonstrate inside the Parliament House complex. Demanding a roll-back in the hike in fuel prices, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Communist Party of India, along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) wanted a discussion under rules which have a specific provision for voting.
The protests were preceded by repeated disruptions in parliament, forcing the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha to be again adjourned for the day.
Vociferous protests by the opposition erupted as the two houses assembled at 11 a.m. Failing to restore order, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the proceedings till 12 noon.
However, as the pandemonium continued when they reassembled, both houses were adjourned for the day after government papers were tabled. Amidst the bedlam, the two houses also approved the imposition of president's rule in Jharkhand.
In the Lok Sabha, angry opposition members led by Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Mulayam Singh of the Samajwadi Party were on their feet as the house resumed in the morning, demanding a discussion on the price rise issue under an adjournment motion that entails voting.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal objected to the opposition's demand and stated that the government was ready for a discussion under rule 193, which does not entail voting.
"Please let question hour proceed," urged Speaker Meira Kumar but Swaraj retorted that the only issue that would be discussed in the house was the price rise.
The Rajya Sabha, where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was present during the din, was also adjourned for the day after similar scenes.
Parliament has not been able to transact any business on the first three working days of the monsoon session that began Monday due to vociferous opposition demands that the price rise issue be debated on priority basis followed by a voting to "censure" the government over its alleged failure to curb the rising prices.
BJP president Gadkari told reporters outside Rashtrapati Bhavan that "the basic reason of price rise is the wrong economic policies of the UPA government. We have urged the president to intervene and find solution after talking to the government".
Advani expressed surprise over Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement Wednesday that the government had not failed to contain the prices. "If it is not government failure, what else is it?" he asked.
On its part, Congress criticised the opposition for paralysing parliament.
"The prices are not going to come down if they keep shouting slogans inside and outside parliament," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Tewari said the Congress was not averse to discuss the issue and added that since the speaker had rejected the opposition demand they must accept it.