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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Govt, Opposition play blame game over price rise

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 07, 2014
First Published: 11:53 IST(7/7/2014) | Last Updated: 01:07 IST(8/7/2014)

Chaos by the Opposition over inflation and hike in rail fares and prices of petrol, diesel and LPG forced the adjournment of Lok Sabha on day one of Parliament session for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.

The House was adjourned twice earlier in the day.

The opposition parties have a number of issues to target the government with including the recent controversy after it rejected the name of former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium for appointment as a judge of the apex court, and the rape case controversy surrounding Union minister Nihalchand.

Trouble started as soon as the Question Hour began, with members of Congress, Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Samajwadi Party (SP), Aam Aadmi Party and the Left parties trooping into the well raising the issue of prices and rail fare hike.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's repeated pleas to allow the questions to be taken up went unheeded, leading to adjournment of the House twice.

Read: 10 challenges FM faces ahead of the budget

"We can discuss the issues you have after this," Mahajan was heard saying amid the din.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members were also in the Well opposing the ordinance on the Polavaram project.

Slogans like "Achha din ayega, mahangai badhayega (good days will come, prices will rise)" and "Roll back rail fare hike" were heard.

Members also opposed rise in prices of petrol, diesel and LPG cylinders.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was seen standing in the aisle, while his party colleagues Jyotiraditya Scindia, Deepinder Singh Hooda, KC Venugopal and several others were in the Well.

RJD's Pappu Yadav was vociferous in his protest as was TMC's Kalyan Banerjee and most of his party colleagues.

Bhagwant Singh Mann of AAP was also in the Well and was heard raising the plight of Indians left behind in trouble-torn Iraq.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the House during the entire period of turmoil along with his senior party and ministerial colleagues LK Advani, Rajnath Singh and Sushma Swaraj.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi was also seated in the front row of the opposition benches.

Amid the din, the replies to questions given by petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and labour minister Narendra Singh Tomar could not be heard.

NCP's Supriya Sule, who was asked to raise a question on unemployment, shouted the government's reply was "unsatisfactory and bureaucratic".

Issues galore
The first test the Modi government would face in the budget session would be in Rajya Sabha - where non-NDA allies are in majority - as presentation of first two budgets of the NDA government would be highlight of over a month-long session.

Although not much legislative business is slated for the session as of now, the National Democratic Alliance government may face challenges in getting its lawmaking agenda approved in the upper house without help of the Congress and other parties.

Earlier, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the issue of leader of opposition was not raised in the all party meet held before the budget session.

"No one raised the issue of leader of opposition at the party meet," Naidu told the media after the meeting.

He added that the government has no reservation on any issue and is open to discussion.

"We are willing to discuss each and every issue depending on its national importance and also the admissibility of the same by the respective presiding officer," Naidu said.

The meet was attended by PM Modi, home minister Rajnath Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley.

Naidu said the belief and approach of the new government is to discuss issues "threadbare" and then come to good conclusion.

He added: "We are very clear that Parliament should have meaningful discussion."

Congress has left the final decision on whether it would approach the court on the matter to its president Sonia Gandhi, but in the lower house party would play hardball.

The ruling BJP, on the other hand, will not hand over the status easily to the Congress, citing precedent.

Apart from Congress, Trinamool Congress has also made it clear that it was keen to raise the price hike and rail fares issues.

But, the government will have a big achievement to showcase at the start of the session - ensuring safe return of 46 nurses from terror-bound Iraq.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is expected to make a statement in this regard in both Houses of Parliament on the first day of the session.

While presentation of the Railway Budget is scheduled for July 8, the economic survey will be released the next day and Union Budget 2014-2015 will be presented on July 10.

The session ends on August 14.

(With PTI and IANS inputs)

Full coverage: Union Budget 2014


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