Pandemonium continued for the 16th consecutive day in Parliament on Thursday as the government failed to find common ground with the opposition that is protesting in both Houses. However, the Lok Sabha passed the Supplementary Demands for Grants amid the din before adjourning for the day.
Both the opposition and the government continued to blame each other for the parliamentary stalemate even as an anguished President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday advised the MPs to “do their job” instead of indulging in sloganeering and protests.
In the Lok Sabha, miffed at unrelenting sloganeering by some members, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan warned of “harsh steps”.
The opposition members were on their feet as soon as the House met at 11 a.m. and gathered near the Speaker’s chair while shouting slogans. In the din, Mahajan carried out the Question Hour for about half an hour, repeatedly warning the protesting members.
But the ruckus only got acute and the House was adjourned until noon.
When the House met at noon, the Speaker warned of action if the opposition members did not stop protesting and disrupting those speaking.
“It is not proper to come in front of a member and disturb them but it is happening here,” Mahajan said as opposition members raised slogans near her podium.
“I would like members to keep this in mind, so that we do not have to take any harsh steps. Any member speaking is an elected member and has the right to speak,” she said.
Mahajan then continued with the Zero Hour amid sloganeering before adjourning the House till 2 p.m.
When the House re-assembled, the Speaker took up the Supplementary Demands for Grants, but Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge stood up to ask for permission to speak.
Mahajan, however, sought an assurance that the opposition would let the House function if she allowed him.
With the opposition not giving any assurance, the Supplementary Demands for Grants were passed by voice vote amid the din.
The supplementary demand for grants for 2016-17 tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley sought Parliament’s approval for additional expenditure of Rs 59,978.29 crore, including a net cash outgo of Rs 35,171.92 crore.
Thus, as much as Rs 24,805.34 crore of the planned expenditure will be met from savings of the ministries and departments or by enhanced receipts and recoveries.
The House was then adjourned for the day.
In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari adjourned the House for the day amid ruckus by the opposition and treasury benches soon after it was reconvened post-lunch at 2 p.m.
Earlier, when the House met at 11 a.m., Ansari asked members to resume the debate on demonetisation but opposition members raised slogans, which were countered by some members from the treasury benches who also trooped into the aisle.
Ansari then adjourned the House for the day.
Earlier, when the Upper House met for the day, opposition members alleged that more than 100 people have died since demonetisation was announced on November 8.
Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the opposition was making it a usual practice to raise the issue, even as a structured debate has already been initiated.
He said: “November 8 will remain a historic day in India.”
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad called those who died after the November 8 demonetisation “martyrs” and said the government not being ready to offer condolences over these deaths was the “height of shamelessness”.
“People are dying and you are saying everything is alright. Besharmi ki bhi hadd hoti hai (There is a limit even to shamelessness),” Azad said.
Members from the treasury benches taunted Azad, saying the opposition levels allegations against the government but does not listen when the government tries to respond.
Ansari told them it was an established practice that the Leader of the House or the Leader of Opposition was allowed to speak whenever they wanted.
The House was adjourned till noon after Ansari’s intervention went unheeded.
When the House re-assembled at noon, opposition members began raising slogans against the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes that has led to a nationwide cash crunch.