Winter session washout? No likely solution to Oppn, govt impasse in Parliament
Parliament’s winter session appeared headed for a near washout, as ruling benches appeared not inclined to allowing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to speak on the hardships faced due to demonetization of currency.Parliament winter session 2016 Updated: Dec 15, 2016 07:25 IST
Parliament’s winter session appeared headed for a near washout, as ruling benches appeared not inclined to allowing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to speak on the hardships faced due to demonetization of currency.
Gandhi levelled serious allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, claiming he had detailed information about “personal corruption” by the PM. “We don’t see a chance of the deadlock being resolved,” a senior minister told HT.
Both houses have lost more than 80% of its time following a standoff between the Opposition and the government over the rule under which they should discuss the hardships faced by people following demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
Winter session started on a stormy note on November 16, with Congress and Trinamool Congress (TMC) leading opposition protest in both Houses. Things were no different in Parliament when it resumed business on Wednesday after a four day break.
The Lok Sabha did not transact much business on Wednesday and the Congress was agitated at not being allowed to speak. It saw a heated exchange between opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Speaker Sumitra Mahajan when she allowed BJD member B Mahtab to speak, ignoring the Congress leader. Most of the treasury bench was on its feet when Kharge tried to speak, revelling the government’s intent to not allow him speak. “We are ready to debate,” Kharge said. Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar made similar remarks, blaming the Opposition of blocking the discussion.
“They have become ‘note-jugaad’ (managing currency) parties. It is a conspiracy to finish off what Modi has brought for the poor,” Kumar said, quoting a sting carried out by a TV channel that showed Congress, SP and BSP leaders offering to convert illicit money into white.
The Rajya Sabha saw a rare bonhomie between the two sides to pass the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014. This was the first legislative business in the winter session cleared by Parliament. The peace was, however, short lived and limited to facilitating passage of the bill, which stipulates up to two-year jail term and a maximum fine of Rs 5 lakh for discriminating against differently-abled persons.
The government’s floor managers claim that with the Congress opposition, it was unlikely that the House will run properly. “Rahul Gandhi indulges in spit and run tactic. If he speaks, he will have to listen to us as well. He is not ready,” law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The Opposition entered the winter session with the demand for an adjournment motion, then climbed down to a debate under a rule that entails voting to finally agree for an immediate debate. The government rejected the first two demands and initiated a debate under 193 that is not followed by a vote.
The general unease about restricted flow of cash in ATMs and banks has emboldened the Opposition and forced a rethink in the treasury bench, which feared that their political rivals would try to milk the situation to its advantage.