NEW DELHI: Protesting against the duty hike on petroleum products, the resultant rise in petrol and diesel prices and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's assertion that it will not be withdrawn, the Opposition stalled the pre-lunch proceedings in Parliament.
Both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha witnessed uproar when Opposition benches insisted that the government make its position clear in the wake of Dr. Singh's statement outside Parliament.
Barring the tabling of papers, the Houses could not take up scheduled business, including the question hour.
In the Lok Sabha, the entire Opposition, including the National Democratic Alliance, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party, the Left parties and the Samajwadi Party, rose to demand a rollback of the hike in petroleum prices. Within minutes, members trooped into the well of the House, shouting slogans against the government and its “anti-people” policies.
After repeated attempts to restore order, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House initially for an hour and, on resumption till after lunch.
In the Rajya Sabha, members of the BJP, CPI(M), CPI, RJD, SP, BSP and the AIADMK stood up in protest and Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House till noon. On resumption, the Opposition insisted that Mr. Pawar clarify his stand on rollback.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said Dr. Singh's statement outside the House constituted breach of privilege. Disagreeing with the member's stand, Deputy Chairman K. Rehman Khan appealed to the members to allow Mr. Pawar to reply.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitely said price rise and hike in petrol and diesel prices were connected and the government should make a statement in the House when it was in session instead of doing so during transit from Saudi Arabia.
Brinda Karat (CPI-M) said Dr. Singh's statement added to the confusion and even the government's own assessment was that the hike in petrol and diesel prices would have a cascading effect.