Amid continuing protests by Opposition members on various issues, Lok Sabha proceedings were disrupted again on Friday.
Amid the din, the government introduced the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill and the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill. However, a scheduled discussion on the COVID situation could not be held.
The proceedings had just begun at 11 a.m. when Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the party had been demanding a discussion on the “Pegasus” issue since the first day of the monsoon session, and then there were also other issues linked to farmers, COVID-19 and price rise. “We want discussion in the House... but the government should change its approach,” he said.
The Speaker said Mr. Chowdhury could raise the matter after the Question Hour, during which several Opposition members kept shouting slogans.
No discussion on Pegasus
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi later intervened to make an appeal to the protesting members. Stating that the IT Minister, Ashwini Vaishnav, had already given a detailed statement on the “Pegasus” matter in both the Houses, he said they were raising a non-issue, due to which Parliament had not been functioning properly for the past seven to eight days. He said the government did not want to pass any Bills without a discussion.
“...there are many issues which are directly related to the poor people of India. Let them raise the issue and give suggestions. The government is ready for a discussion, but most unfortunately, they are not allowing the Parliament to run. The Question Hour is the right of the Members. More than 350 members want the Question Hour to run. In spite of that, it is unfortunate if they behave like this...,” he said.
However, as the sloganeering continued, the House was adjourned till noon.
Thereafter, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sought the leave of the House to introduce the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill and the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill.
Opposition to the Bill
Member N.K. Premachandran strongly opposed the Insurance Bill, stating that it would lead to total privatisation of the general insurance companies. He said the bill was vague, indefinite, ambiguous and not in consonance with the original Act. He urged the government to withdraw the bill, defer it as the House was not in order.
Members Kodikunnil Suresh and Member Santokh Singh Chaudhary also opposed the introduction of Insurance Bill.
In her reply, Ms. Sitharaman said: “Yes, I also wish that the House is in order. Yes, I also wish that the House discusses this Bill. I also wish that the Members, understanding the importance of a Bill of this nature also participate in the debate... However, I still like to say that the apprehensions mentioned by the Members are not well founded at all.”
She said through the Bill, the government was bringing in some provisions to enable the common citizens’ participation in the general insurance companies. “Our markets can raise money from the retail participants who are Indian citizens. Through that, we can have greater supply of money, bring in greater inclusion of technology and also enable faster growth of such general insurance companies in India,” she said.
Following an approval from the House, both the Bills were introduced by the Ministers. Then, around 12-15 p.m., the House was then adjourned for the day.