New Delhi, Nov 28 (IANS) Normal functioning of both houses of Parliament continued to be affected for the eighth consecutive day on Monday amid opposition protest over the November 8 demonetisation of high-denomination currency notes.
In the Lok Sabha, nevertheless, the government introduced a new bill to levy heavy taxes on undisclosed income as a post-demonetisation move to curb black money.
Members of both houses paid homage to Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, who passed away on Friday.
Thereafter, both the houses saw repeated adjournments as opposition members remained adamant on their respective demands — to call Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the upper house and the discussion under an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha.
In the Lok Sabha, the first adjournment came shortly after it met when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s efforts to proceed with the Question Hour failed.
When the House met after the first adjournment at noon, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge described the post-demonetisation situation in the country as “economic clutter”.
“Poor people are the worst affected… They can’t take money out of their own bank accounts. This is an economic clutter,” he said.
“We support an end to black money, but not the way it has been done and the atmosphere that has been created,” Kharge said, urging the Speaker to allow the debate under the rule pertaining to adjournment motion.
Since the debate under adjournment motion is followed by voting, the government has said it is against voting as it will send the message that there is political division on the issue.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also assured the lower house that the Prime Minister will come to the House and make his intervention in the debate.
The opposition members, however, kept raising slogans like ‘adjournment motion shuru karo (start the adjournment motion)’.
As the opposition members created a ruckus, the Speaker adjourned the house till 2 p.m. The same situation prevailed when the house reassembled, after which the Speaker adjourned it for the day.
The Rajya Sabha witnessed some heated exchange between the opposition and the treasury benches and saw repeated adjournments on the demonetisation issue and the ‘Aakrosh Divas’ protests by a combined opposition against the government’s decision to scrap Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “People are dying. Where is the currency? The government had said situation would normalise in a week but it’s been more than a week now. There is still no currency.”
Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu intervened: “I request you (the Chair) to conduct the Zero Hour as per the procedure. They (opposition) are discussing whatever they want to.”
When the upper house met after an adjournment, Azad again said it was for the first time that no statement has been made by the government in either of the two houses of Parliament on such an important policy matter.
“This has happened for the first time that the Prime Minister has made no statement in either house. This (issue) should be debated in both the houses,” he said.
The opposition also demanded Modi’s presence during debate in Parliament since demonetisation was his decision.
Senior Congress leader and former Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the Constitution or any law did not give authority to the Prime Minister to deprive people access to their own money or property.
“Even in a financial emergency, the Prime Minister can’t do so,” he said, adding that demonetisation was “illegal”.
Sharma wanted a ruling on the issue from the Chair, but was told by Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien that it was not possible since it was under discussion in the upper house.
In response, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the Prime Minister will come to the House and reply to the discussion, provided that the opposition starts the discussion.
The opposition members, however, kept on shouting slogans against Modi and the central government.
“Modi tere mann ki baat, gareeb khaye pet pe laat (Modi, your intention is to deprive the poor of livelihood)” the opposition members chorused.
The Chair then adjourned the upper house for the day.