Rajya Sabha adjourned for day as opposition demands Modi’s apology (Third Lead)

New Delhi, Dec 1 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day on Thursday amid opposition’s uproar over its demand for an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly projecting outside Parliament that the entire opposition was supporting black money.

In the morning, the house was adjourned for 15 minutes but later adjourned to 2 p.m. when the opposition continued to demand an apology from Modi.

When the house met again at 2 p.m., Deputy Speaker P.J. Kurien tried to persuade the protesting members to continue the discussion on the November 8 demonetisation but opposition members, led by those from the Congress, trooped near the Chairman’s podium to demand an apology from Modi, who was present in the house at the time.

Kurien said: “This is unfair. Your demand was that the Prime Minister should come to the house. Now he is here. You continue the discussion.”

But the Opposition didn’t relent and shouted slogans like ‘Pradhan Mantri maafi maango (Prime Minister, apologise).

Amid the din, Kurien adjourned the house for the day.

Earlier, Modi entered the house at noon, when a heated exchange was on between the opposition and the treasury benches over allegations that the government had bypassed the Rajya Sabha by taking the “money bill route” while going for amendment to income tax law.

The opposition MPs, including those from the Congress and Samajwadi Party, were referring to the Income Tax Laws (Second Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was declared a money bill and passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

“The question is if the bill is a money bill or not. The question is the route the money bill took to bypass this house,” Congress member Jairam Ramesh said, adding that he was not questioning Article 110 of the Constitution (that defines a money bill) or the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision to declare it a money bill.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Constitution is clear on which bill is a money bill.

As soon as Modi entered the upper house, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad sought his apology for allegedly portraying the entire opposition as supporters of black money.

“The entire opposition is with the Prime Minister in the fight against black money. But he said the opposition parties support black money. He should aplogise,” Azad said.

The treasury benches protested noisily at this demand. Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu accused the opposition of running away from discussion.

Mayawati and Sharad Yadav reiterated their demand that Modi should sit through the entire debate as Trinamool member Derek O’Brien also demanded an apology.

Amid sloganeering and pandemonium, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House for 15 minutes. But when it reconvened, the opposition members again started raising slogans ‘Pradhan Mantri maafi maango’ and came near the Chairman’s podium. Ansari adjourned the House till 2.00 p.m.

In the morning, when the house met, the Trinamool Congress raised the issue of delay in landing permission to a plane carrying West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Kolkata airport on Wednesday evening.

“The pilot sought landing, saying he was short of fuel. But the flight was put on hold. It was made to hover (over the airport) for a considerable time. There was not only the Chief Minister, but also hundreds of passengers onboard,” O’Brien said.

Opposition members, irrespective of party affiliation, supported O’Brien on the issue.

Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati, Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Prem Chand Gupta, Communist Party of India-Marxist’s T.K. Rangarajan, Trichuri Shiva of AIADMK and Rajiv Shukla of the Congress demanded a thorough inquiry in the matter and tabling of the report in the house.

–IANS

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