With speech on stakes sale cut short, Congress stages walkout

Speaker asked Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury to wind up his Zero Hour mention

Published - November 22, 2019 09:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaking in the House on Friday.

Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaking in the House on Friday.

Congress members walked out of the Lok Sabha on Friday after Speaker Om Birla asked Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, party leader in the House, to wind up his Zero Hour mention on the strategic sale and privatisation of profit-making public sector undertakings amid sharp exchanges between BJP and Trinamool members.

Referring to the announcement of the strategic sale of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL), Mr. Chowdhury charged the Centre with selling off the “family silver” to “please some pampered corporate houses”.

However, Mr. Chowdhury had barely completed his second sentence when the Chair called Locket Chatterjee, BJP MP from West Bengal, to speak.

Ms. Chatterjee alleged that one of the para teachers in East Midnapore (Bengal), who has been on a hunger strike since November 11 demanding better pay, had died during the agitation.

Almost immediately, Trinamool MPs rushed to the Well of the House, accusing the BJP of “misguiding” the House and raised slogans.

Despite the commotion, Ms. Chatterjee continued to speak for nearly five minutes, alleging the State government’s inaction in the matter. After Mr. Birla restored order in the House, he went back to Mr. Chowdhury and asked him to continue.

“This government has been resorting to the selling of government PSU stakes only to fund the exchequer, much to the disservice of our economy,” Mr. Chowdhury said. “In 2003, the Supreme Court of India made it clear in the context of BPCL and HPCL [Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd.] that they cannot be disinvested without the concurrence of Parliament.”

However, when the Speaker told him that the time allotted to him was over, Congress members, along with Mr. Chowdhury, walked out in protest.

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