Both houses of Parliament witnessed disruptions for the 13th consecutive day on Monday over the issues of people facing problems over cash crunch, alleged non-payment of salaries to central government staff and discussion on demonetisation.
In the Lok Sabha, the government and opposition failed to break the deadlock over the discussion on demonetisation, which the latter earlier wanted under a rule entailing voting. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suggested that the debate can take place without sparring over rules.Although the opposition climbed down from its earlier demand to hold the discussion under Rule 56 (which entails voting and is seen as a bid to censure the government) and demanded a debate under Rule 184, the government did not yield. Rule 184 also entails voting, but is not seen as censuring of the government. The Speaker allowed notices by the Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samithi to debate demonetisation under Rule 193, which is meant for conducting a short-duration discussion on an issue.
However, most opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress, the Left parties, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party and others, said the debate can take place under Rule 184.The first adjournment of the house came in the Question Hour, as opposition members put forward their demand for debate under Rule 184 and started sloganeering. The lower house was adjourned till noon.As the house met at noon, Leader of the Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said they were ready for the debate under Rule 184."We have requested repeatedly for a debate under Rule 56... but we are finding other ways. We can take up the debate under Rule 184," Kharge said."People are getting ill and dying. The GDP (gross domestic product) growth has slowed down; people have lost jobs. This is a serious matter," Kharge said.While the opposition insisted on Rule 184, Mahajan said the debate should be started without insisting on rule and instead the problems of the common people should be discussed.
"Everyone wants to discuss the problems of the common people, so do I... there is a debate listed under Rule 193... but I am ready to cooperate; don't fight on rules, start the discussion without any rule," Mahajan said. While the government agreed, the opposition insisted on Rule 184, and started protesting again by raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Amid the din, the Speaker continued with Zero Hour submissions, before adjourning the House till 2 p.m. When the house reassembled, the protests continued and opposition members trooped near the Speaker's podium. Mahajan then adjourned the house for the day.In the Rajya Sabha, the opposition raised the issue of non-payment of salaries to central government employees, besides hardships faced by the cash-strapped people during the weekend.
The opposition demanded the government immediately pay salaries and pensions to its employees and other workers."No central government employee has got his salary (for November). The government is doing it knowingly," charged Naresh Agrawal of the Samajwadi Party soon after the upper house met after lunch break at 2 p.m.Senior Congress leader and Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma also raised the issue and said the situation had deteriorated over the weekend and people were suffering due to cash crunch.He said unless the government fixes the problem, the situation will not improve in the upper house.During the pre-lunch session, the upper house witnessed two adjournments.
The house was first adjourned till noon as the opposition protested against the way people struggled to withdraw their own money from the banks.
Earlier, as the upper house met at 11 a.m., Leader of Opposition Gulam Nabi Azad said people are suffering because of the cash crunch and the overall situation is going from bad to worse."Thousands of people met us during the weekend. No money is being given to them. They are suffering," he said, adding that even the automated teller machines in Parliament premises are out of cash.In response, Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said: "It's an important issue and should be debated."The month-long winter session of Parliament began on November 16 and has seen numerous disruptions over demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes by the Centre.