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Lok Sabha adjourned for day, logjam persists over demonetisation

IANS | New Delhi |

Logjam over demonetisation debate and disruptions continued in the Lok Sabha on Monday as the government and opposition failed to reach an agreement over the rule for the discussion, even as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suggested the debate can be taken up without any rule.
On Monday, the Speaker allowed notices by Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to debate demonetisation under Rule 193, which is for conducting a short-duration discussion on an issue.
However, most opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, the Left parties, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and some other parties, said the debate can take place under Rule 184, moving down from their demand for debate under Rule 56, the adjournment motion.
Rule 184 also entails voting like adjournment motion. However, an adjournment motion is seen as a bid to censor the government.
The first adjournment of the house came in the Question Hour, as opposition members put forward their demand for debate under Rule 184.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said Biju Janata Dal and TRS had given notice to hold the debate under Rule 193 and their wish should also be respected.
“Please don't take it as a prestige issue. Let's all start the debate. Let all parties come together to fight against the black money,” he said.
The Question Hour continued amidst sloganeering for sometime, but the house was then adjourned till noon.
As the house met at noon, Leader of the Congress party in the house Malikarjun Kharge said they were ready for debate under Rule 184.
“We have requested repeatedly for a debate under Rule 56… but we are finding other ways. We can take up the debate under Rule 184,” Kharge said.
“People are getting ill and dying. The GDP growth has slowed down, people have lost jobs. This is a serious matter,” Kharge said.
“Government has such a brutal majority that they themselves are not able to digest it. Why are they running away from vote,” he asked.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said it is the government's responsibility to ensure the house functions and debate takes place.
A.P. Jithender Reddy of the TRS said the opposition is not against the move which aims at curbing black money, but against its implementation.
Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh said over 100 people have died and farmers and traders are suffering, and urged the government to take up the debate.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh then thanked the opposition for not doubting the government's intention behind the move, and said the government wanted the opposition's suggestion on the problems in the implementation.
“I want to thank the opposition… No one has expressed suspicion on the government's intention. Maybe according to their thinking the implementation is not right. I want to say, as far as the government is concerned, we are ready to discuss it right now. We want to know what are the problems in implementation,” Singh said.
“I want to assure the opposition, we will try to resolve the problems they point out at,” he said.
“The decision was taken in the national interest,” he said, adding the Speaker can decide the rule for the debate or if it should be without any rule.
While opposition insisted on Rule 184, Mahajan said the debate should be started without any rule and problems of the common people should be discussed.
“Everyone wants to discuss the problems of the common people, so do I… There is a debate listed under 193… But I am ready to cooperate, don't fight on rules, start the discussion without any rule,” Mahajan said. The government agreed with her.
However, the opposition members insisted the debate be taken up under Rule 184, and started protesting again by raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Amid the din, the Speaker continued with Zero Hour submissions, before adjourning the house around 12.50 p.m. till 2 p.m.
When the house reassembled, protests continued and opposition members trooped near the Speaker's podium.
Mahajan then adjourned the house for the day.
Opposition members through the day raised slogans against Modi, including one asking him to stop his radio programme 'Mann ki Baat'.
Opposition members were also heard chanting “Modi, Modi”. During the Question Hour, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was answering a question at that time, said: “It is good they are saying Modi, Modi”.
The Lok Sabha is witnessing a logjam between the government and the opposition over a debate on demonetisation of high value Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
Opposition members have said they are not against the move but the implementation, and have insisted on a debate following voting.
The government, however, has said that voting will send a message that the house is divided on the issue of fighting black money, and insisted on a debate without any voting.