Parliament: Another day washed out, Swaraj unable to complete statement in Lok Sabha amid protests
The Lok Sabha was first adjourned till noon and then for the day due to the ruckus created by several protesting parties. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day within about 30 minutes since it assembled after Swaraj made a suo motu statement on the Indians killed in Iraq.india Updated: Mar 20, 2018 23:25 IST
Disruptions in Parliament possibly reached a new low on Tuesday when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj couldn’t make a full statement in Lok Sabha on the death of 39 Indian workers in Iraq amid protests by opposition parties.
Members of some parties were in the Well of the House and others protested from their benches when Swaraj rose to make statement. Expressing anguish, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said, “This is possibly the first time that in Parliament such an important statement could not be made. Has politics washed out our humanity and sensitivity?” Swaraj finally made the statement in the Rajya Sabha, telling members that the 39 workers kidnapped by the Islamic State in June 2014 in Iraq’s Mosul were dead.
With no end in sight to the logjam in Parliament, the Lok Sabha again failed to take up no-confidence motions introduced by YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and NDA’s erstwhile ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) against the Modi government. Both have been protesting against the denial of so-called special category status to Andhra Pradesh, ruled by TDP.
After 12 days of the second half of the budget session, the House stares at a complete washout with hardly any substantial business done, except the passage of the financial bills related to the Budget. TDP, which withdrew its support from the NDA during the session, and YRSCP, moved their no-confidence motions for the third time on Tuesday but protests by Tamil Nadu’s All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), Telangana’s governing Telangana Rashtra Samithi, and other parties didn’t allow the motions to be taken up.
Leader of the opposition in the Rajys Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Opposition was keen to discuss all issues, including the banking fraud, special category status for Andhra, and matters related to Cauvery river, sharing of whose waters is the subject of a dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. While law minister Ravishankar Prasad and junior minister for parliamentary affairs Vijay Goel maintained the government is ready to reply, AIADMK MPs continued their protests and the House was adjourned for the day.
Meanwhile, M Venkaiah Naidu, chairman of Rajya Sabha, called off a dinner he planned to host for MPs on March 21. “All preparations for the proposed dinner were put in place last week. Naidu had spoken to the President, PM, Leader of the House, Leader of the Opposition, and several floor leaders. Invitation cards were kept ready. Naidu was expecting RS to get back to normal work before sending out the invites,” said a close aide to Naidu.
“At the daily meeting with floor leaders on Tuesday, Naidu conveyed his anguish over the ongoing stalemate and informed them of his decision to call off the dinner. Naidu was of the view that it would not be appropriate to go ahead with the dinner with the House not functioning for over two weeks,” said the aide on condition of anonymity.
Later, leaders from 10 opposition parties were present during a meeting in Azad’s chamber. These included Congress, West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha. “The entire opposition holds that the government is responsible for the impasse and for not taking any interest in the functioning of Parliament. So, they are running away from the issues. The government is running away from debate. They, as a matter of fact, do not want to discuss the issues; they are very scared of the bank scam. They are very much scared. They know they have no face to face the public of India and are scared to discuss this issue on the floor of House. They are not interested in running or in functioning of the House,” Azad told reporters.
Chief Whip of Congress in Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia said, “...this is a conspiracy by the government to ensure that Parliament does not function.”
(With PTI inputs)