More than three weeks since the winter session began, both Houses have failed to conduct any meaningful business as protests over demonetisation continues to disrupt proceedings.
Friday was no different as the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day by noon and the Rajya Sabha too witnessed multiple disruptions over demonetisation and the slashing of import duty on wheat.
A united opposition front and the government continued to blame each other for the parliamentary stalemate even as an anguished President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday advised MPs to “do their job” instead of indulging in sloganeering and protests.
Parliament breaks for four days after Friday as both Houses approved of recommendations made by their respective Business Advisory Committees (BAC) to declare December 12 a holiday. December 13 had already been declared a holiday on account of Eid-e-Milad-un Nabi.
The Opposition marked the first month of demonetisation as a “Black Day” on Thursday, with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accusing Modi, who is yet to speak on the issue in Parliament, of laughing at the suffering of the people. The move had benefitted digital wallets such as Paytm while the poor faced hardship, he said.
As disruptions spoiled chances of a debate on demonetisation again on Thursday, Modi took to Twitter after Gandhi’s blistering remarks.
I salute the people of India for wholeheartedly participating in this ongoing Yagna against corruption, terrorism & black money.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 8, 2016
It was on November 8 night that Modi announced that Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes would no longer be legal tender.
Follow LIVE updates from the Parliament:
2: 40 pm: With less than 20 members present in the House for the session convened after lunch, deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha PJ Kurien decides there is not enough quorum to run the House.
MoS Naqvi mocks the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress leader Anand Sharma for the rows of empty seats behind them. Azad retorts, “Quorum is not the responsibility of the leader of the Opposition, it is that of the ruling party.”
Kurien adjourns the Rajya Sabha till Wednesday, December 14 since there isn’t quorum in the House even after the bell is rung twice.
12.50 pm: Outside Parliament, Smriti Irani refers to Rahul Gandhi’s ‘earthquake’ comment. She says it is only the Congress party that has been feeling tremors thanks to the Congress vice president and that he has had no effect elsewhere. “Rahul Gandhi overestimates the power of his oratory skills,” she says.
12.35 pm: Urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu speaks outside Parliament. He says, “lakhs of people committed suicide due to distress” under Congress’ rule. “Who are you preaching?”
Naidu also brings up the bypoll elections held in November.
12.12 pm: Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is forced to adjourn the House for the day as the protests reach a deafening high. The House will reconvene again only on December 14.
12.11 pm: Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said the minority was keeping the majority away from discussion. “This is not the way... when the majority wants to participate in a discussion, they are disrupting,” Kumar said.
“They must apologise to the nation. They are wasting people’s money,” he said.
12.10 pm: Despite the loud sloganeering, the Lok Sabha manages to conduct some business during Zero Hour. A motion was adopted to suspend AAP MP Bhagwant Mann for the remaining days of the winter session over breach in Parliament security.
12.05 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien gestures to ruling party MPs and says, “They are the ones who should be running the House but they are not interested.” As the din refuses to subside, the Rajya Sabha is adjourned till 2.00 pm.
It is the Govt's responsibility to run the House. Why are they blaming the Opposition? - Derek O'Brien in RS— AITC (@AITCofficial) December 9, 2016
12.01 pm: MoS parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says a bunch of items have been listed for discussion but the Opposition’s protests was stalling important work from being done.
Chairman Hamid Ansari asks sloganeering Opposition members if Question Hour should run or not, as scheduled. In response, he gets a chorus of ‘No’. Ansari turns to members of the ruling government, shrugs and says, “Nothing can be done in this noise.”
11.45 am: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi speaks to reporters outside Parliament. PM Narendra Modi is giving speeches across the country but why is he so scared of speaking in Parliament, he asks. “This is one of the biggest scams in this history of the country and the government is running from debate; if they allow me to speak then you will see what an earthquake will come,” ANI quotes Rahul Gandhi as saying.
Govt running from debate,if they allow me to speak then you will see what an earthquake will come: Rahul Gandhi #DeMonetisation— ANI (@ANI_news) December 9, 2016
11.35 am: Lok Sabha reconvenes only to be adjourned minutes later as both opposition parties and the government trade barbs over the Parliament logjam.
Before it was adjourned, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Opposition was ready for debating demonetisation and has been continuously requesting for it. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar retorted that the Opposition has disrupted the House for 16 days by holding it into ransom and they must apologise.
“The situation has reached such a stage that the President had to speak against the disruption,” he said.
BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said for protests and sit-ins, as suggested by the President, Jantar Mantar is the best place and not the Parliament and hence the Opposition must apologise.
11.30 am: Deputy chairman PJ Kurien adjourns the Rajya Sabha as Opposition leaders gather in the well of the House chanting, “Kisan virodhi ye sarkaar, nahi chalegi” (This government is anti-farmer) in the wake of the discussion on wheat import duty.
11.25 am: Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also enters the debate on the reduced import duty for wheat. “If the buffer stock of wheat is so high, then why are the import duties being reduced to 0? There was expectation of bumper harvest this season since monsoon was so good. In this conditions, why did you reduce?
“Farmers from other countries will celebrate. It is the 50th anniversary of the Green Revolution in India, but on this occasion the government is telling farmers they don’t matter and that we’re going to import wheat. This is a slap on the face of agriculture,” says Ramesh.
11.20 am: Union minister of food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan responds, “There is no shortage of wheat, there is enough food grain.” Opposition members react to this, with Yechury questioning the minister as to why the price is skyrocketing if there is, as the minister claims, ample stock.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati says that the government needs to rethink demonetisation or else farmers will have to bear huge losses, they’ll be ruined.
11: 13 am: In the Rajya Sabha, Communist Part of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury brings up a news report on Import Duty being scrapped on wheat.
“Zero duty imports are shameful for the country. I strongly condemn this,” he said.
Mera desh badal raha hai? India was food secure. And now, importing an important staple, Wheat. Buffer stocks fall dangerously low. pic.twitter.com/6lwMk2aFwJ— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) December 9, 2016
11.07 am: The Lok Sabha is adjourned only minutes into the day’s session as uproar over demonetisation stalls proceedings.
10.40 am: ANI news agency reports that Opposition leaders will meet Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan. On Thursday, amid unrelenting sloganeering by House members, she warned of “harsh steps”. Mahajan conducted Question Hour for about half an hour, repeatedly warning the protesting members.
“It is not proper to come in front of a member and disturb them but it is happening here,” Mahajan said as opposition members raised slogans near her podium on Thursday.
10.30 am: Opposition leaders meet ahead of the day’s session in Parliament