Parliament on Thursday erupted in protests after the treasury benches pushed for a debate on the AgustaWestland scam in the Lok Sabha to counter the Opposition that seemed to have agreed to a debate on demonetisation without voting.
But parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar indicated it was too late for the Opposition to change its stance. Kumar said the government had been ready to debate demonetisation, “but they stalled Parliament for 20 days.”
Now, he said, the government wanted to discuss the chopper scandal which could reach the Congress’ first family. “There should be a discussion on this,” he said.
Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till Friday as Opposition members trooped into the Well, and some ruling party members tried to shout them down.
Rajya Sabha witnessed similar disruptions. “This is the first time in the history of India after Independence that the ruling party is disturbing the proceedings of the House, leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
“This is an anti-farmer government,” he said, a reference to the refusal of the ruling party MPs blocking his discussion on the impact of demonetisation on farmers. Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice and will meet at 2 pm.
Kumar’s push for a debate on the chopper deal and not demonetisation suggests the winter session – that has already lost over 80% of the time to pandemonium over the Centre’s move to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes – is headed towards a washout.
The government – which had been insisting on a debate on demonetisation without a vote at the end of the discussion – scaled its attack on the government a day after Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi claimed he had information about “personal corruption” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP leaders reacted sharply, asking Gandhi to prove his accusations.
The Congress and the Trinamool Congress – that had been the loudest critics of the demonetisation decision of the government over the past three weeks – said they had backed down from their debate for voting at the end of the debate.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the discussion could start immediately. Trinamool’s Sudip Bandyopadhyay agreed, calling it an opportune moment. He asked the Speaker to persuade the government to agree to spend the next two days discussing demonetisation.