The Congress party on Monday appeared to be cornered as many opposition parties backed out of its protest and backed Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's suggestion for a meeting to find a way out of the logjam in Parliament.
Several opposition parties met Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in an attempt to break the logjam even as a relentless Congress stalled proceedings in both Houses of Parliament with only three days remaining of the monsoon session.
Earlier, the Congress party indulged in slogan shouting and entered into heated exchanges with the treasury bench in both the Houses. Rajya Sabha as well as Lok Sabha were both adjourned repeatedly as an relenting Congress created a ruckus raising various issues including the Lalit Modi controversy as well as the Vyapam recruitment and admission scam.
In Lok Sabha, chaotic scenes were witnessed as senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad led the opposition charge against the government, demanding the resignation of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj over the Lalit Modi row.
The 25 Congress members, whose five-day suspension by Speaker Sumita Mahajan had ended on Friday evening, were back in the House in full strength. During their suspension, several opposition parties were either boycotting the proceedings in solidarity or walking out of the House all these days.
They were suspended for five days for disrupting proceedings leading to the boycott of the House by nine opposition parties, worsening a bitter stand-off and dimming chances of key bills being passed in the monsoon session.
Mahajan disallowed all notices of adjournment in the Lower House as defiant Congress lawmakers came in with placards and sporting black arm bands. The Congress party had earlier moved an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha for a discussion on Lalit Modi issue and the Vyapam scam case. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) had given a notice of adjournment motion on the Jharkhand stampede incident.
Mahajan adjourned the House for 30 minutes amid the chaos after Mulayam Singh Yadav's suggestion that she convenes a meeting of leaders of various parties to break the logjam.
Congress' no to Mulayam's suggestion
Yadav's suggestion did not find favour with Congress as its chief Sonia Gandhi was seen saying "no" and party leader Mallikarjun Kharge suggesting that the SP leader was giving his individual views. As Yadav again sought to press his point, Sonia Gandhi was seen telling partymen to resume slogan shouting in the Well, which was temporarily stopped when the SP chief was speaking.
While Yadav, his nephew and party colleague Dharmendra Yadav, RJD's Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav, AAP's Bhagwant Mann and Trinamool Congress decided to meet Mahajan, Congress members refused to do so. During the meeting, Mulayam Singh Yadav said that his party wants the House to function and will not support Congress protest, reports said.
After the Lower House resumed, Mahajan continued with the proceedings allowing members to take up matters of public importance. However, amid protests by Congress MPs she adjourned the House again till 2pm.
Rahul Gandhi questions Sushma Swaraj
Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi defended his party's decision to disrupt the House saying he has raised a basic question about the scams involving several ministers, hitting out at Sushma Swaraj for her speech in Lok Sabha.
"Sushma gave a very nice speech in Lok Sabha. If she is so caring and concerned about Lalit Modi why did she do it secretly? Why not tell her ministry and the people of India? Sushma Swaraj ji ye bta dein kitna transaction hua hai, House chal jayega," said Rahul.
In Rajya Sabha, Congress lawmakers trooped in with placards and wearing black arm bands and no sooner had the House met for the day, Congress and Janata Dal(United) members were on their feet raising different issues. They protested in the Well of the House over issues like appointment of governors to Bihar and Himachal Pradesh without consulting chief ministers of the states.
After Kurien managed to get the listed papers laid on the table amidst the din, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said an impression was being created in the last two-three days that parliamentary affairs minister had spoken to him and Congress leader in Lok Sabha to end the stalemate over Lalit Modi issue and Vyapam scam.
"I want to categorically state that there was no meeting. But he did make a phone call which was not to end stalemate but to discuss the expulsion of 25 of our colleagues in Lok Sabha. It had nothing to do on this subject of ending the stalemate. It want to make this very clear," said Sharma.
Trouble broke out when Congress members, who were shouting anti-government slogans in the Well, began to withdraw to allow KC Tyagi (JD-U) to speak on his motion under rule 267 seeking suspension of business to discuss the appointment of governors without consulting states, with the BJP members objecting to it.
What added fuel to the fire was the remarks of Leader of the House Arun Jaitley that it was deputy chairman PJ Kurien's responsibility to bring the House to order with the ruling side vociferously objecting to floor being given to Tyagi without a guarantee that the government's response will be heard without disruption.
"You can't have the House conducted in a manner in which the government is not allowed to speak," said finance minister.
"It is unfortunate in the way House is being conducted. ... It's your responsibility ..."
His remark led the Congress members to rush to the Well again, raising slogans against the government.
Jesudasu Seelam (Cong), holding a banner that read "Implement Special Status for AP State", marched angrily towards the treasury benches. He showed his banner to BJP members as Kurien adjourned the House till 12:00pm.
The Upper House was adjourned again till 2pm.
(With inputs from agencies)