New Delhi Bureau

Proceedings held up as the Opposition seeks to bring in privilege motions

  • Opposition seeks to bring privilege motions against Prime Minister
  • Lok Sabha passes the Government Securities Bill, 2004

    NEW DELHI: The "leakage" of the Pathak Authority report on the oil-for-food scam held up proceedings in Parliament on Monday as the Opposition sought to bring privilege motions against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. After quick adjournments, the presiding officers of both Houses called it a day in the post-lunch session.

    The Authority's report, along with the Action Taken Report, was tabled after the first adjournment during zero hour by Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha and Minister of State for Finance Pawan Kumar Bansal in the Rajya Sabha.

    Despite three adjournments, the Lok Sabha wrapped up the business scheduled for the day: The Government Securities Bill, 2004, was passed through the din and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil tabled his response to the discussion on the report of the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry on the alleged disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

    BJP's demand

    The day began in the Lok Sabha with Vijay Kumar Malhotra (BJP) seeking the Speaker's response on his privilege notice. As the Opposition members rose in support, Mr. Chatterjee said: "I myself have said that I resent it and expect an enquiry." He needed more time to study the notice which was received by his office at 10 a.m. .

    For the next half-hour, the Opposition picketed the well raising slogans against the Prime Minister, resulting in the first adjournment of 15 minutes. When the House met again, the remaining part of question hour was drowned out in the din and the second adjournment announced minutes into zero hour.

    "Attack on democracy"

    The scene was no different post-lunch with the Opposition demanding an apology from the Prime Minister, resulting in pandemonium with a counter attack from the ruling Benches. It also drew a reprimand from the Chair.

    "This is shameful behaviour and a direct attack on democracy," Mr. Chatterjee said.

    Proceedings in the Rajya Sabha were also crippled over the alleged leakage, leading to frequent adjournments.

    Raising slogans against the Congress, the Opposition members demanded that the breach of privilege notices given by the BJP, the AIADMK, the Samajwadi Party, the Telugu Desam Party and former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh be taken up by suspending question hour.

    V. Narayanasamy (Congress) asked about the privilege notice given by him last week against the Leader of the Opposition, Jaswant Singh, on his failure to name the "mole" in the Prime Minister's Office.

    Support for Natwar Singh

    Mr. Natwar Singh rose several times seeking an opportunity to raise the privilege notice moved by him against the Prime Minister.

    He found support in BJP and SP members who shouted that he be allowed to speak.

    In the post-lunch session BJP members trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans such as "Let Congress be exposed, let Natwar Singh speak". The Chairman said he had received privilege notices from the BJP, the SP, the AIADMK and the TDP.

    "Mr. Natwar Singh and Mr. Narayansamy's privilege notices have also been received by me. They are under examination. Till such time that the notices are under examination I cannot give any ruling on them." This did not satisfy members, leading to adjournment of the House for the day, after barely 17 minutes of sitting.