Both Houses of Parliament could not transact any business for the seventh day Tuesday — the Lok Sabha failed to take up Finance Bill 2018-19 due to disruption of proceedings by opposition parties over various issues.
Both Question Hour and Zero Hour were washed out as members belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress, AIADMK, TRS, Telugu Desam and YSR Congress came into the Well and shouted slogans, forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn proceedings, first for 50 minutes, and later for the whole day.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha. The House was first adjourned until 2 pm, and later for the day.
The government had lined up Finance Bill 2018-19 and Appropriation Bills for 2017-18 and 2018-19 in the Revised List of Business. Cut motions on demands for grants of the ministries of Railways, Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and Social Justice and Empowerment had also been listed.
The government’s attempt to clear all vital financial business without making a serious fresh move to end the impasse took the Opposition by surprise. Soon after the Lok Sabha was adjourned, Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that the government was not willing to discuss the Punjab National Bank fraud issue after suspending all business. He said the disruption of the House by other parties, including the Telugu Desam and the AIADMK — the former is an ally of the BJP and the latter favourably disposed — was aimed at stalling a discussion on the PNB scam.
“These are government-sponsored agitations,” he alleged. “It is a blot on democracy that the government is running away from a discussion…and is telling outside that the Opposition does not want a debate. If we were not ready for a discussion, why would we give a notice? If all six Bills are guillotined, then the question to the Government is, do you believe in Parliamentary democracy?”
Kharge said the Opposition wanted to discuss six issues and this was agreed in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC). Several opposition members also wrote to the Speaker registering protest over the government’s decision to guillotine Outstanding Demands for Grants without a discussion. Those who signed the letter include Jyotiraditya Scindia (Congress), Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Mohammad Salim (CPI-M), N K Premachandran (RSP) and Jai Prakash Narain Yadav (RJD).
The letter stated: “In the last BAC meeting dated March 5, 2018, the Government had allotted time for discussion for 6 Ministries/departments: Railways, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Social Justice and Empowerment, Health and Family Welfare, Youth Affairs and Road Transport and Highways, but the date and time of Guillotine and Finance Bill were not decided. As per parliamentary practices, without deciding/informing the date and time of the Guillotine and passing of Finance Bill to all party leaders, it is quite unusual to include them in the list of business.”
Guillotine is the act of putting all demands for grant to vote, without discussion on the last day earmarked for the discussion of the Budget.
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