Parliament adjourned over JPC, winter session ends Monday (Second lead)

Friday, December 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - Parliament was adjourned for the 21st successive day Friday following the opposition’s noisy demand for a joint parliamentary probe (JPC) into the 2G spectrum scam, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) threatened to launch a public protest over the issue.

The Lok Sabha was adjourned at 3.30 p.m. by P.C. Chacko, one of the chairpersons who was in the chair, after two adjournments earlier in the day. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned at 2.30 p.m.

The winter session - which began Nov 9 - is slated to end Monday.

An official of the parliament secretariat told IANS that the members will assemble outside parliament’s circular building at 10.30 a.m. Monday to pay tributes to the security personnel and civilians killed in the terror attack on parliament on Dec 13, 2001.

With no breakthrough in sight in the deadlock over the JPC demand, both houses are likely to witness the protests on Monday too and be adjourned. Being the last day of session, the adjournment on Monday will be ’sine die’.

Very little legislative business has been transacted in the winter session so far. Barring a near-normal working day Nov 9 in the Lok Sabha, the rest of the session was lost in protests. The Rajya Sabha could not have any normal working day.

The Lok Sabha approved the bill to rename Orissa as ‘Odisha’ on the first day of the session while the Rajya Sabha was adjourned after obituary reference.

Amdist uproarious scenes, the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on the 2G spectrum allotment was tabled in both houses on Nov 16.

The Appropriation Bill and Bill on Supplementary Grants to the Railways were also approved by parliament, enabling the government to find funds for its functioning in the coming months.

On the legislative side, the bill to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace was among the key bills introduced in the session.

On Friday, the Lok Sabha began its proceedings with obituaries references for two former members. But as soon as that was over, members belonging to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Left and other opposition parties rushed towards the speaker’s podium and raised slogans demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe.

Some other members stood at their seats carrying placards reading ‘We want justice’ and ‘We want JPC’. As the protests continued, Speaker Meira Kumar first adjourned the lower house till noon.

The house met again, but within a couple of minutes, it was adjourned again till 3.30 p.m., when the private members’ bills were expected to be taken up.

When the Lok Sabha re-assembled, Chacko pleaded with the opposition to allow the house to function as it “was to take up no government business, but the business of the MPs”. However, he adjourned the house till Monday as protests continued.

Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha, where opposition members raised slogans demanding a JPC. Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the house till 12 noon. After the upper house re-assembled, the opposition continued its protests, forcing Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan to adjourn it till 2.30 p.m.

As the protests continued when it re-assembled again, the house was adjourned till Monday.

Meanwhile, the BJP has chalked out an agitation programme to press for a JPC.

“We will go to the people’s court to expose the government on the issue of corruption. We are finalising our agitation strategy,” senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy told IANS outside parliament.

“The stubborn refusal of the government to set up a JPC will further strengthen the suspicion against the government and the prime minister in particular,” Rudy said.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters that the opposition was answerable for the huge loss caused to the exchequer by the non-functioning of parliament.

The opposition has been demanding a JPC to probe the 2G spectrum allocation in 2008, which according to the CAG report, caused huge notional losses to the public exchequer.

Andimuthu Raja resigned Nov 7 as communications minister ahead of the parliament session.

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