Both Houses adjourned as Oppn insists on vote on price rise

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 29 2010, 04:15am hrs
The entire Opposition paralysed both Houses of Parliament today to press for the suspension of Question Hour and a debate on price rise under the rules providing for voting. And, as expected, the presiding officers adjourned the House till Wednesday, setting the stage for a replay of on Tuesdays scenes in the wake of fresh notices for admission of an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha and a discussion under Rule 168 in the Rajya Sabha.

However, sources indicated that Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar may give a ruling rejecting the Opposition notices on Wednesday. Going by the mood of the Opposition, it seemed very unlikely that the parties opposed to the government would readily give in and facilitate a discussion under Rule 193. In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition today refused to accept a simple discussion, minus voting, by suspending Question Hour.

Meira Kumar had given a similar ruling during the Budget Session. However, her task was made easier by the Opposition last time by attributing its notice to inflation. The Speaker could turn them down saying that the ground stated by them did not meet a basic qualification that the issue must be of recent occurrence.

The Opposition had formulated the latest notices citing the hike in the price of kerosene and LPG, which had been increased after the Budget Session. We would find it difficult to reject it, sources in the government admitted on Tuesday. Though strictly speaking, this power is vested in the Speaker, but practically she cannot sanction a discussion without the governments nod.

BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde issued a statement asking the government if it was unsure of its numbers in the two Houses given the fact that it was avoiding a vote. Are the allies of this government unsure of their support the BJP leader asked. Parliament is not merely a debating club, Munde said.

Announcing that they had also given fresh notices, CPI(M) floor leaders Baudeb Acharia (Lok Sabha) and Sitaram Yechury (Rajya Sabha) said they were co-ordinating with the BJD, SP, Telugu Desam, RJD and AIADMK to mobilise support.

As the issue gained momentum, UP chief minister and BSP leader Mayawati issued a statement in Lucknow demanding a debate on price-rise in Parliament. She said inflation had reached 18% due to the irresponsible attitude of the Centre.

The Centres decision to reduce subsidy on petroleum products is a serious cause of concern as it has doubled the problems of the poor, she said. Though Mayawati was silent on the adjournment motion, the timing of the statement gave a boost to the Opposition drive.