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Parliamentary affairs: Slogans, disruptions & a lull

Deepak Razdan | New Delhi |

For the third consecutive week, Parliament went without normal business, adjourning each day after presentation of official notifications, statements and reports of Parliamentary Committees.

While the Lok Sabha could not decide to take up the no-confidence motion against the Government, it sought to be moved by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress Party, the Rajya Sabha could not discuss banking scams because of members shouting slogans near theofficials’ table.

The logjam continued,  even though the Government and the majority of the Opposition indicated readiness to resume normal business. The parties disrupting the proceedings, however, seemed to follow different strategies in the two Houses. While they kept calm for some business to be transacted in the Rajya Sabha, they shouted without break in the Lok Sabha.

On Tuesday morning, there was a brief pause in the Rajya Sabha when External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj gave her statement, confirming the killing of 39 Indians held hostage by the ISIS in Iraq. Members stood in silence for a few minutes. The minister was not given the same concession in the Lok Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed another occasion of “lull” in the noisy sloganeering on Thursday when it approved the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha, paved the way for doubling payment of tax-free gratuity to industry workers to Rs 20 lakh.

On Monday, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the House  she had received notices for the no-confidence motion from Thota Narasimham and Jayadev Galla (TDP), and Y V Subba Reddy (YSR Congress Party).

She said, “I am duty bound to bring the notices before the House. Unless the House is in order, I will not be in a position to count the 50 members who have to stand in their assigned places so that I can ascertain as to whether the leave has been granted or not. Therefore, I request all of you to go back to your seats.”

Since members from the TRS and AIADMK did not resume their seats and kept shouting slogans in the well of the House, the notices could not be taken up. She repeated her ruling every day till Friday.

While the Congress and TDP had not joined members shouting in the well in the Lok Sabha, their members were seen in the Well of the Rajya Sabha. The Upper House had to be adjourned early as the members did not resume their seats, despite Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s offer to allow discussions on all issues. On Tuesday, after the statement by Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said nine parties, including TMC, BSP, SP, DMK, NCP, CPI, CPI(M) and JMM had met at the Congress party office, and wanted the House to function and discuss the “loot” of the banks’ money, the Andhra Pradesh special category status and the Cauvery water issues.

The Government was responsible for the impasse, and should engage with the parties protesting in the House, he said. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and parliamentary affairs minister of state Vijay said the Government was ready for the debates.

The Chairman said the House must be in order to work normally. The
present “wrong” could not be justified citing past events, he said.