The BJP and the Congress created pandemonium in Parliament today over WikiLeaks expose and alleged irregularities in VSNL disinvestment during NDA regime but in the din, the government managed to introduce the landmark GST Bill in the Lok Sabha.
After giving privilege notices against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for allegedly misleading Parliament on the WikiLeaks exposé , the main Opposition pressed for immediate discussion on the issue in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
But an aggressive Congress hit back at BJP on media reports about charges of irregularities in disinvestment of controlling stake in telecom major VSNL during the NDA regime when Arun Shourie was the Disinvestment Minister.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee moved for consideration the crucial Finance Bill after the BJP staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha.
The GST Bill, considered as the most important tax reforms measure, was also introduced in the din along with another key bill seeking to liberalise the banking sector. The Bill seeks to combine the state and central taxes aimed at creating a common national market.
Right from the morning, the Rajya Sabha witnessed turmoil as BJP and Congress members clashed over the two issues derailing an important calling attention on nuclear safety in the country in the backdrop of Japan quake.
The confrontation between the two sides was visible as soon as the Upper House met and repeated clashes forced the Chair to adjourn the House till Wednesday.
In the melee, an important bill concerning prevention of sealing of unauthorised commercial constructions in the national capital was passed without discussion.
Trouble started in the Lok Sabha when Speaker Meira Kumar told Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj that her notice of Breach of Privilege against the Prime Minister was being examined by her, prompting Ms. Swaraj to press for immediate discussion on the issue.
Ms. Swaraj noted that she along with Sharad Yadav (JD—U) and Yashwant Sinha (BJP) have given notice for such a debate under Rule 193, which does not entail voting.
However, Mukherjee wanted the Finance Bill to be taken up first to ensure that the Constitutional requirement of completion of the Budget approval by Parliament is met as the session is concluding in the next few days.
“I do not think heaven is going to fall if we take up the Finance Bill first. I assure you that we will have the discussion after the Finance Bill is passed. I am not making it a prestige issue,” Mr. Mukherjee said.
When the Rajya Sabha met in the morning, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley rose to say that he had given two notices — one on privilege motion against the Prime Minister and the other seeking a discussion under Rule 176, which does not entail voting.
Deputy Chairman Mr. K Rahman Khan said a decision was yet to be taken on the two notices.
However, BJP members persisted that Mr. Jaitley should be allowed to speak. Congress members began waving a weekly news magazine, which carried reports on alleged irregularities on the strategic sale of VSNL during the NDA regime.
While the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day a little after 2 p.m., the Lok Sabha took up for discussion on the Finance Bill after walkout by the BJP