President Pranab Mukherjee said on Thursday that Parliament was not a place for dharna and disruptions that amount to the “gagging of majority” by the minority, criticising lawmakers for stalling proceedings in the winter session over the government’s decision to ban high-value banknotes.
“Disruption is totally unacceptable in parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor,” he said, speaking on “Electoral reforms for a stronger democracy” on the occasion of Defence Estates Day Lecture in New Delhi.
More than two weeks of the winter session of Parliament has been lost to disruptions over Opposition protests over the government’s November 8 decision to recall Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, sending the economy reeling .
Mukherjee, who was a member of Parliament before he became the President, said: “Disruption means you are hurt, you are gagging majority. Majority never participates in this disruption. Only minority comes to the well, shouts slogans, stops the proceedings and creates a situation in which the Chair has no option but to adjourn the House. This is totally unacceptable”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shock announcement to scrap the banknotes on November 8 has sparked chaos and confusion across the country, with millions of consumers queuing outside banks and ATMs to change a limited number of old notes for new ones or withdraw cash. The government said the move was aimed at rooting out black money and corruption.
But the move has met with resistance by the Opposition, which has accused the government of conducting the exercise without proper planning and triggered ruckus in Parliament.
“For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God’s sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance,” the President said, a day after veteran BJP leader LK Advani expressed displeasure over the functioning in the House.
Maintaining that he was not targeting any single party or individuals, he said the responsibility to run the House rested with everyone.
“Fact remains that this (disruption) has become a practice which should not be acceptable at all. Whatever be the differences, we have the opportunity, to speak our mind, to speak freely and no court can interfere in what I say on the floor of the House,” he said.