Parliament | Budget session sees Opposition stir on fuel price hike

Multiple adjournment motions marred the working of the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the second part of the Budget session, with Opposition leaders demanding a debate on the “huge and frequent” increase in petrol, diesel and LPG prices. The Lok Sabha, too, saw disruptions on the issue of a separate discussion on fuel price hike.

The first adjournment came at 10.00 a.m. after Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu rejected the Opposition’s demand to suspend the day’s business to debate on the fuel price hike. Mr. Naidu said there will be many opportunities to discuss the issue in the course of the session, including a debate on the appropriation Bill.

“You are well aware, petrol prices are nearly ₹100 per litre and diesel prices are more than ₹80 per litre. LPG rates have also increased and all petroleum products have gone up,” said Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. Mr. Kharge said the debate on fuel prices cannot be put off for later as the common man is suffering. But the Chairman did not agree to Mr. Kharge’s demand.

Following this exchange, the Opposition started raising slogans. Mr. Naidu called it a “mockery of democracy”. When the House re-assembled at 11 a.m., Congress members demanded a discussion again.

Parliament proceedings | March 8, 2021

However, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was in the chair, did not allow the discussion and noted that the decision of the Chairman cannot be revisited.

The House resumed at 1 p.m., when Nationalist Congress Party’s Vandana Chavan was in the chair. Opposition members continued with their demand for a discussion, which led to Ms. Chavan adjourning the House twice, before it was adjourned for the day at 1.30 p.m.

The Bills listed for consideration and passing, according to the list of business, are The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2019, and The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

In the Lok Sabha, after the House reconvened at 5 p.m. after an hour’s break due to orbituary references on the death of two sitting MPs, Daman and Diu MP Mohan Delkar and Nandkumar Chauhan of Madhya Pradesh, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla dismissed adjournment motions on the issue of fuel price hike, resulting in protests by Opposition members, including the Shiv Sena.

Mr. Birla said the Opposition could raise the issue as part of a discussion on the supplementary demand for grants, but the protesting MPs did not agree. The Congress, Trinamool and Shiv Sena Sena MPs rushed to the Well of the House to protest.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said women suffered the most due to the rise in fuel prices and on the International Day for Women, the issue should be allowed to be raised. Mr. Birla said women MPs had asked for a calling attention motion on women’s empowerment, and that should be discussed. He then asked Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Badal to speak amid protests by MPs. Ms. Badal said the Congess in Punjab had some of the highest taxes on fuel and petroleum products and that their protests here were moot. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi appealed for calm and asked for the discussion on women’s empowerment to start, but protests went on. Mr. Birla then adjourned the House till 7 p.m.

When the Lok Sabha resumed at 7 p.m. after one adjournment, BJP MP Rama Devi conducted the proceedings as per Mr. Birla’s suggestion on the occasion of International Women’s Day. Speaking at a calling attention motion, independent MP Navneet Rana said “she was an unwanted child herself as her family did not want a second girl child”. The Lower House was adjourned for the day in about 30 minutes after protests from Congress MPs over increase in fuel prices and inflation disrupted the proceedings.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 6:20:20 PM |

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