Lok Sabha transacts some business, stalemate continues in Rajya Sabha; Congress blames government

Ruckus created by some Opposition parties continued in both the houses of the Parliament today except for a brief period in Lok Sabha when government succeeded in transacting some business.
Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Congress, government, Parl Source: PTI
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi December 08, 2016 21:12 IST

Ruckus created by some Opposition parties continued in both the houses of the Parliament today except for a brief period in Lok Sabha when government succeeded in transacting some business and Supplementary Demand for Grants was passed.

However, the Rajya Sabha continued to be stalled due to pandemonium, involving even clashes between the ruling and the opposition benches as Opposition parties continued to attack the government over demonetisation issue. 

The Congress has blamed the government for continued disruption in Parliament saying it was willing to consider the ruling party's proposal to break the logjam.

The second batch of Supplementary Demand for Grants was passed by the Lok Sabha by a voice vote after a short debate during which members of Congress, Trinamool and some other Opposition parties continuously shouted slogans. 

Several members, including Kirit Somaiya (BJP), Jayadev Galla (TDP) and Dushyant Chautala (INLD), participated in the debate. 

Replying to the discussion amid din, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought to turn the tables on the Congress by daring it to name one decision its government had taken against black money during 10-year rule. 

"I today challenge them (Congress) to spell out a single step that they had taken during 10-year of their rule against black money," he said, taking on the Opposition party which has been attacking the government over demonetisation. 

Refuting the allegation that government has given additional route to people to convert black money into white by paying 50 per cent tax, Jaitley said the effective liability on them would be about 65 per cent, much higher than 8 per cent under the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) of 1997. 

"It is not just 50 per cent. Out of remaining 50 per cent, 25 per cent would be kept by government for four years. If you calculate interest on that, the effective tax comes out to be 65 per cent," he said. 

As per the amendment to the Income Tax Act which is pending in the Rajya Sabha, the unaccounted income declared by black money holders during the 50-day window ending December 30 would attract tax and penalty of 50 per cent while the remaining 25 per cent of such income would have to be deposited with government for four years. 

The Supplementary Demand for Grants and related Bills, which were approved by the lower house, authorise government to increase public expenditure by about Rs 60,000 crore though the additional cash outgo would be only Rs 36,000 crore. 

The last time any transaction conducted in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Winter session that began on November 16 was on November 29 when the House passed the Income Tax amendment bill within minutes and without any discussion. That bill too was passed amid din.

While replying to debate on Supplementary Demand for Grants, Jaitley referred to demonetisation and expressed hope that situation would normalise by the end of this month. 

The Finance Minister said every effort is being made to minimise the hardship of the people who have to stand in long queues to get currency. 

"I should clarify that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that we will normalise the situation by December 30. We will try and minimise the hardship faced by the people. Every day RBI put money into the system. Efforts are being made to towards less cash economy and digital economy," he said. 

After the Supplementary Demand for Grants was approved, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar appealed to the Opposition to shun its protest and agree to a debate on demonetisation under Rule 193 which does not entail voting. 

He accused the Opposition of running away from the debate by continuing the protest. 

The Opposition members, meanwhile, continued to shout slogans against the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi while demanding debate under Rule 184 which entails voting. 

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan then adjourned the House for the day. 

Earlier, despite the din, several matters of urgent importance were taken up during the Zero Hour. A number of questions were also taken up during the Question Hour. 

As soon as the House assembled for the day, leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge wanted to raise some issue but the Speaker did not allow him and started the Question Hour. 

Members belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Left parties then rushed into the Well. Apart from usual English and Hindi slogans, the members also raised slogans in regional languages like Malayalam and Bengali. 

"What is this? I am warning you. Please, please, I am repeatedly telling you if you want to debate, debate. But don't disturb the whole House," an upset Speaker told the shouting members. 

Members belonging to Samajwadi Party and NCP extended their support to their Opposition counterparts by standing in the aisles along their seats. 

Amidst continued din, the Speaker took up five questions before adjourning the House for nearly 20 minutes till noon. The Congress and Left members were seen wearing black bands on their right arm as a mark of protest against demonetisation, which was announced exactly a month ago. 

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, who was recently hospitalised, was present in the House. She was seen engaged in intimate discussions with her son and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotirditya Scindia and Deepender Singh Hooda. 

The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, saw a washout once again due to deadlock over demonetisation. It was adjourned twice during the pre-lunch period and then finally for the day a few minutes after it reassembled at 2 PM. 

Trouble started soon after the House met for the day. No sooner were the listed papers laid, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) said 115 people have lost their lives in 30 days since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced junking of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

Their death should be mourned in the House, he said. 

Even before he could finish, Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was up on his feet saying "this is politics. Let there be a discussion (on the issue)... November 8 (when the demonetisation was announced) is a historic day." 

When Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad was asked by the Chair to speak as requested by him, Naidu protested, saying the Opposition had been using the tactic of slamming the government and then creating ruckus when someone from the government spoke to ensure that its views are not heard. 

He asked the Chair to give protection to the ruling side. Azad then said more than 100 farmers, women, youth and elderly persons have lost their lives in last one month due to hardships caused from wrong policies of the government. 

"We wanted this House to mourn their death but the government has refused an obituary reference," he said. 

Ruling side members, in turn, shouted slogans demanding resumption of debate on demonetisation which was initiated on the first day of the ongoing Winter session on November 16. 

People do not have money and the government says there is enough currency in circulation, Azad said, adding "this is the limit of shamelessness." 

He said it was a "shameful" of the government that "it is adding salt to the injury" instead of mourning the deaths. At this point, Jaitley got up to reply but opposition members began raising slogans. They were countered by slogan shouting from the BJP benches. 

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the unfinished discussion on demonetisation should resume immediately. 

Soon after the House reassembled at noon, Congress started raising slogans and repeated efforts by Chairman Hamid Ansari to restore order in the Upper House did not yield result and he adjourned the House till 2 PM. 

When the House met again, Digvijay Singh (Cong) raised objections to reduction of import duty on wheat from 10 per cent to nil. He expressed the reservations soon after Minister of State for Finance Arjun Ram Meghwal tabled the notification on import duty cut. 

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) also objected to this step. Ansari then asked members to continue the debate ondemonetisation to which the opposition responded with a resounding no. They then started shouting slogans and the House weas adjourned for the day.

Anguished over the continued disruption in the parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the House is not a place for dharna and disruption which amounts to "gagging of majority" by the minority. 

In a stinging attack on the opposition over Parliamentary paralysis, Mukherjee said, "Disruption is totally unacceptable in Parliamentary system. People send representatives to speak and not to sit on dharna and not to create any trouble on the floor.”

"For demonstration, you can choose any other places. But for God's sake, do your job. You are meant to transact business. You are meant to devote your time for exercising the authority of members, particularly Lok Sabha members over money and finance," he said. 

Congress agreed with President’s call for allowing Parliament to function and said it was a good advice given to the government. 

Accusing the treasury benches of failing to come up with any suggestion to ensure smooth functioning of the House, Ghulam Nabi Azad said was instrumental in creating disturbance and disruption in Parliament and said the ruling party was behaving in a manner as if it was still in opposition. 

"It is for the government to run Parliament. Let the government come forward with a proposal. Let us see, we can consider if it comes. But there is no suggestion from the government side so far," he said. 

(With PTI inputs) 

 
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