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Looking back: When Parliament faced its worst disruption in 2010

HT looks back at the winter session of 2010 when Parliament was held hostage to protests and recorded its worst performance in close to two decades.

india Updated: Mar 25, 2018 09:04 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Opposition members protest during the ongoing budget session of Rajya Sabha, at Parliament House, in New Delhi.
Opposition members protest during the ongoing budget session of Rajya Sabha, at Parliament House, in New Delhi. (PTI file photo)

The second half of the budget session looks headed for a complete washout as protests by many non-NDA parties have not let a single day of peaceful proceedings. HT looks back at the winter session of 2010 when Parliament was held hostage to protests and recorded its worst performance in close to two decades.

Context

The protests of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and many other parties rocked both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha after the CAG report on 2G scam became public. The Lower House and the Upper House could utilise only 6% and 2% of their allotted time. The report spoke about a possible loss of Rs1.76 lakh crore in the sale of 2G spectrum.

The Opposition demanded that the government must constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the scam—a demand the Manmohan Singh government rejected firmly.

This stand, however, just lasted for two months, as in the 2011 budget session, the government agreed to form a JPC to avoid washout of another session. The Supreme Court cancelled the allotted spectrum and licenses allocated and the CBI framed cases against leaders like former telecom minister A Raja and his party colleague Kanimozhi.

What happened

The Congress-led UPA government, which had retained power with a bigger tally a year ago, faced firing from the BJP—led NDA, SP, TDP, the Left parties, BJD and AIADMK over the demand to form a JPC into the 2G spectrum scam.

The trouble started when the controversial CAG report was tabled in Parliament on November 16. The then Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, removed telecom minister A Raja but it failed to appease the Opposition.

The UPA 2 government argued that the Public Accounts Committee should review the report—as it happens with most of the CAG reports.

Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari remarked at the end of the session, “No debates on issues of public interest took place. No special mentions, no zero hour interventions took place, no questions were answered orally and no supplementary questions were raised.”

And just like the current session when amid continuous disruptions, the government managed to pass the financial bills for the budget, in the winter session of 2010 the Centre got approval for supplementary demands for ₹46,000 crore.

Significance

The 2010 session and the current session have proved that whenever allegations of corruption come up in the public domain, the Parliament witnesses a major uproar and disruptions.

The 2010 session became the worst performing session in recent times. Earlier, the Parliament could not function for 17 days in 2001 and 45 days in 1987 over the Tehelka and Bofors scam, respectively.

This year, the first half of the budget session went smoothly but after the news of the alleged Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud by jeweller Nirav Modi and Mehuls Choski hit the headlines, things took a different turn.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee, which was led by a Congress member, eventually gave a clean chit to the then Prime Minister and mentioned that he was misled by A Raja.

(Looking Back will take a contemporary news development and bring to readers a related slice of history)