The blame game between the Opposition and the government continued after both Houses of Parliament were adjourned on Tuesday without discussing the price rise issue.
Although the government agreed to allot “as many hours as the Opposition wanted” for the debate, the Opposition insisted it should be discussed as an adjournment motion, which is voted upon. While the Opposition wanted to corner the government through a possible censure, the government rejected it on the plea that the subject did not fit the rule for adjournment motions and the Opposition in fact did not want a discussion at all.
After Parliament was adjourned, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said she would have liked the House to discuss this very important subject and lamented that the House was disrupted over the rule under which discussion should take place. Before she could give her ruling on that, an adjournment was forced.
In the Rajya Sabha, an agreement arrived at on Monday fell apart when the Opposition parties reconsidered their earlier view to allow a short duration discussion if the government were to agree to suspend the question hour. However, on Tuesday the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies, as well as the Left parties and other Opposition parties, felt that their strong views on the subject would be conveyed better by forcing an adjournment, which they did.
A Left party MP said the views of the right and the left “coincided” on the price issue. Allowing the discussion under the rule for short duration discussions would not have given the strong signal to people and to the government that the continued high rate of inflation, especially of food articles, would not and could not be tolerated.
So far the signal from the Opposition parties is that they will allow the Railway budget to be presented smoothly. BJP Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said as much. He and Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde charged the government with wanting to escape a parliamentary referendum on the subject of price rise.
The government was unable to make any effective policy intervention to bring down prices and the Opposition wanted to convey that it did not simply want Parliament to become a talking shop or a debating club, but to get the sense of the House through a vote.