Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day as the Opposition was unrelenting in demanding a discussion on the price rise issue under a substantive motion that entailed voting. The issue had been debated in Parliament several times for the past six years and the government had failed to act concretely on the suggestions made to check price rise, the Opposition argued.
With the government unwilling to be flexible, presiding officers had to adjourn both Houses.
In the Lok Sabha, it was trouble from the word go with the entire Opposition demanding an adjournment to discuss the issue even as Speaker Meira Kumar sought its cooperation in introducing Sushma Swaraj as the new Leader of the Opposition. Once this was done, an adjournment was sought with Ms. Swaraj pointing out that the impact of discussions under different rules differed.
“An adjournment was necessary here because the matter had been discussed under Rule 193 earlier but unfortunately the government failed to take any concrete measures to check inflation,” she said.
In the Rajya Sabha too the Opposition was on its feet as soon as the House assembled and demanded that price rise should be debated under Rules 167 and 168 which required voting.
Chairman Hamid Ansari said there was consensus to have a discussion and pointed out that a short duration format was scheduled for the day.
However, the Opposition felt the issue must be tackled seriously and this could only be done if there was voting after the discussion. Rejecting the Opposition’s demand in the Lok Sabha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal tried to reason things out by saying that price rise had been an issue for the past six years and hence did not warrant adjournment.
The government was committed to holding a discussion on any issue provided it was a “structured debate.” The government had already departed from convention by allowing a discussion on price rise before the Motion of Thanks on the President’s speech, he pointed out.
This led to a furore, with Opposition members trooping into the well, forcing the Speaker to adjourn Question Hour. When the House re-assembled, the slogan-shouting Opposition stormed the well once again. The Speaker then decided to adjourn the proceedings for the day.
Later, terming price rise as an issue that had put the common man in distress, Ms. Kumar expressed concern that the House could not take up the debate.
“I wanted that the House should discuss the matter. Disrupting the House over the rule and not debating the subject also dismays the public,” she told journalists outside Parliament.
Asked under which rule she thought the debate should take place, the Speaker said it was necessary for her to listen to both sides before arriving at a conclusion.