As it happened: Uproar over Rijiju ‘scam’ stalls Parl; RS passes disability rights bill | india-news | Hindustan Times
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As it happened: Uproar over Rijiju ‘scam’ stalls Parl; RS passes disability rights bill

With just three days remaining in the winter session, the Rijiju episode has cast a fresh shadow over the possibility of any business being transacted in both houses.

Parliament winter session 2016 Updated: Dec 14, 2016 15:32 IST
HT Correspondent
Thirteen opposition parties leaders , barring the Left and the Aam Aadmi Party, protested at Parliament’s Gandhi statue demanding answers on in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, 23 November 2016.
Thirteen opposition parties leaders , barring the Left and the Aam Aadmi Party, protested at Parliament’s Gandhi statue demanding answers on in New Delhi, India, on Wednesday, 23 November 2016.(Sonu Mehta /Hindustan Times)

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that he has “personal information on corruption” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which he wants to reveal in the Lok Sabha. He was speaking during a joint press meet of the Opposition after Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day.

Earlier, Parliament met after four days, with the Congress sharpening its attack over demonetisation and an alleged corruption scandal involving junior home minister Kiren Rijiju. With just three days remaining in the winter session, the Rijiju episode has cast a fresh shadow over the possibility of any business being transacted in both houses.

The Rajya Sabha, however, presented a different picture, with the day’s proceedings functioning smoothly until late afternoon. All clauses of the disability rights bill was discussed and the bill was passed, as amended. The House had to be adjourned shortly afterwards protests over Rijiju’s alleged involvement in the scam stalled proceedings.

Ever since the session began on November 16, the Lok Sabha has managed to conduct only two legislative actions -- passage of Income Tax amendment bill and approval of supplementary demand for grants -- that too amid din and without much debate.

Read | To debate or disrupt? That’s the question for Congress as Parliament resumes

Here are the highlights:

2.50 pm: Kurien attempts to dismiss the discussion by pointing out that an allegation cannot be made against another member in the House unless the Chair has informed about it beforehand. His pleas fall on deaf ears, however, as both sides trade barbs.

“Both sides are indulging in indiscipline, what can I do,” says Kurien and adjourns the House for the day.

2.45 pm: Soon after the deputy chairman congratulates members of the House for a productive session, the familiar sounds of sloganeering begin again as Congress leader Anand Sharma brings up the notice he gave under rule 267 in Rajya Sabha for discussion on Kiren Rijiju’s alleged involvement in Arunachal hydro scam.

Arun Jaitley responds, “The allegations made by the Congress party is completely false and fabricated.”

Read | Javadekar, Goyal come to Rijiju’s defence in Rs 450 cr power project scam row

2.40 pm: After going through an exhaustive series of 120 clauses, the disabilities bill, as amended, is passed in the Rajya Sabha.

A visibly relieved deputy chairman PJ Kurien says after passing the bill, “Why don’t we have it like this everyday. Let us proceed like this. So nice it is. I am so happy today.”

2.15 pm: Rajya Sabha resumes clause by clause examination of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 .

1.45 pm: Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan says the Opposition can’t have it both ways, speaking to reporters outside Parliament. “Both things cannot happen at the same time that you protest in the Well and also ask for discussion.”

Read | Rahul Gandhi must substantiate corruption charge against PM

1.15 pm: BJP leaders respond to Rahul Gandhi’s comments. Ananth Kumar demands proof from him and says that the Congress vice-president is spreading wild allegations. “From day one we’ve been saying that we’re ready for debate but unfortunately the Opposition is not allowing the House to function,” he said.

Venkaiah Naidu questions why the Congress and Rahul Gandhi has not allowed the Parliament to function and have a proper debate on demonetisation in the last 15 days.

Human resources minister Prakash Javadekar refers to Gandhi’s comments outside Parliament on Friday, when he promised an ‘earthquake’ if he is allowed to speak in the Lok Sabha. “He says there will be an earthquake when he speaks in the House. We are saying no earthquake will happen, only the ground beneath his feet will give way,” Javadekar said.

Read | Lok Sabha adjourned amid Opposition protests over demonetisation, Kiren Rijiju

Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Kiren Rijiju says it is the Congress party, not PM Modi, which is very scared as it has to defend what the party vice president has said.

“Everybody feels that it is the biggest joke of the year that Rahul Gandhi says Narendra Modi is scared of his oratory skill. I don’t think anyone takes comments he makes seriously. Congress itself is very scared of when Rahul Gandhi speaks as the party has to defend his words. That’s the level of threat he poses to his own party,” Rijiju said.

12.30 pm: “PM is afraid that if he lets me speak then his balloon will burst. I have information on the personal corruption of the Prime Minister which I want to reveal in the Lok Sabha, but I am not being allowed to speak. Modi is terrified of the information I have,” says Rahul Gandhi, during joint media briefing by Opposition parties.

“We are ready for an unconditional debate but the government is not allowing me to speak. It is our right to speak. Modi has destroyed millions of lives,” he says.

12.20 pm: The Lok Sabha is adjourned for the day to be reconvened again only on Thursday.

12.10 pm: Lok Sabha reconvenes but no business is being done as the Opposition accuses of MoS Home Kiren Rijiju of being involved in a Rs 450-crore scam in a hydropower project in his home state Arunachal Pradesh. Ruling front parties brings up Agusta Westland in response.

“It’s very sad day, leader of the Opposition is challenging the speaker,” says parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar referring to Mallikarjun Kharge.“Regarding note bandi, we are always ready for a discussion.There is more jugaad in the congress party,” says Ananth Kumar.

Read | The jury is out on Rijiju but violations rampant in Arunachal hydel projects

12.00 pm: All clauses in the disabilities bill that came up before noon is adopted and the rest will be taken up at 2 pm, says Kurien as he is replaced by chairman Hamid Ansari for Question Hour session. As Opposition members start showing signs of protest and bringing up subjects not listed on the agenda, Ansari pleads with them to behave.

“Don’t introduce a Jekyll and Hyde personality in the House. Other issues will be taken up at other times. I do repeat that the House is showing propensity of a Jekyll and Hyde character. I fail to understand this,” Ansari says.

He is forced to adjourn the Rajya Sabha till 2 pm.

11.30 am: The amendments of the disabilities bill is up for vote in the Rajya Sabha as the House tries to pass the bill before noon.

11.20 am: Discussion on Cyclone Vardah underway. Former finance minister P. Chidambaram says that the matter is quite serious. “I compliment the government for positioning the NDRF in advance and for placing army columns in advance. But more needs to be done. Respond to Tamil Nadu government’s request for aid. PM and the finance minister must consult and announce financial package.

Read | No electricity, no network, no money: Battered Tamil Nadu struggles post cyclone Vardah

He also stresses the importance of replenishing ATMS and bank branches in Tamil Nadu. FM Jaitley agrees and says all that is necessary will be done.

11.15 am: Deputy chairman PJ Kurien expresses reservations over passing of the bill without any discussion at all.

“I am very happy that there is a demand from all members that a bill should be passed but I am stuck by a procedural problem. It is listed for 2 pm therefore there should be absolute consensus for scheduling it for earlier,” says Kurien. He also says that it is not fair to the members who moved amendments for the bill if it passed without discussion. .

11.10 am: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014 is brought up in the Rajya Sabha and all members are unanimous on passing the bill without discussion.

“If we don’t pass it today, it can’t be passed in the other House,” says leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad.

11.00 am: Pandemonium in the Lok Sabha right from the onset. Prime Minister Modi is present in the House but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is forced to adjourn within minutes as loud protests persist.

10.55 am: “I have come to speak; let’s see if the government will let me or not,” ANI quotes Rahul Gandhi as both Houses convene.

10.40 am: PM Modi chairs a meeting with senior ministers in his chamber in Parliament. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar, defence minister Manohar Parrikar are among those present.

Read | Govt braces for trouble in Parliament as bank queues returned after long weekend

10.15 am: “If Opposition will raise Kiren Rijiju’s issue in Parl, they may have to face a lot of embarrassment and they’ll have to face a lot of truth”, ANI quotes minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

The ruling side would rake up the AgustaWestland helicopter issue to target its top brass to “divert attention from hardships facing people due to demonetisation”, sources told HT.

10.00 am: ANI reports that Congress will raise Kiren Rijiju’s alleged involvement in Arunachal hydro scam issue in Rajya Sabha. Anand Sharma gives notice under rule 267 in Rajya Sabha for discussion on the subject.

9.50 am: Opposition parties meet ahead of Wednesday’s Parliament session.

8.00 am: Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge said the party would bring up the vigilance report accusing minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju of influencing payments for a hydro project contract in Arunachal Pradesh.

“Today, we will have a party meeting. We have two to three important issues to raise in Parliament like demonetisation, India’ foreign policy towards Pakistan, and of course, the issue involving Rijiju. We will discuss all these issues in the party meeting and accordingly raise our issues in parliament,” Kharge told ANI.

(With agency inputs)

Read | PM Modi’s presence in Parliament will ‘compel’ the Opposition to debate note ban