Storm over FDI, SC/ST quota paralyses Parliament on Day 2
The scene in the Parliament remained unchanged on the second consecutive day as protests force adjournment till Monday
On Day 2 of the Winter Session of the Parliament, the heat over issues such as FDI in retail and quota in promotions for SCs and STs was kept on by the protesting parties paralysing proceedings for the second day in a row.
With Trinamool Congress politicians moving into the Well of the House, the Left and the Right also made a case against the UPA’s move to allow 51% FDI in multi-brand retail. The Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have, however, not taken a clear stand on the issue so far. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has called for an all-party meet on Monday, 26 November, to break the stalemate.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned five minutes post noon on the second day of the Winter Session without any progress. The Left, BJP and other parties also raised slogans against the government’s decision on FDI.
The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, saw its select committee report on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas bill being tabled on Friday, 23 November. The report was tabled in the midst of a ruckus, which was created by Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members demanding reservation for SC/STs in job promotion.
The committee has suggested, among other things, the Prime Minister be brought under the Lokpal's purview, except for matters dealing with external affairs, internal security and atomic energy. The government, however, is not obligated to follow the suggestions of the committee as the decision on the bill will be taken after it is presented in the Parliament.
Winter Session, Day 1: Disturbance as usual
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House after the BJP and the Left demanded debate and voting over FDI
It was the first day of the Winter Session of Parliament on Thursday, 22 November. As usual disturbance reigned supreme. As expected, disruption started after the Prime Minister introduced the new members of his council of ministers. The first issue was of the no-confidence motion moved by the members of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), which was rejected by the chair as the minimum number required for a no confidence motion was not with the TMC. The TMC has only 19 members in the Parliament as opposed to the requisite 50 for a no-confidence motion.
The major bone of contention between the opposition and the government was over under which rule the discussion on FDI in multi brand retail should take place. The opposition wanted Rule 184, which entails voting after the discussion has taken place. The government is of the opinion that FDI is an executive decision and not a legislative decision meaning that the Parliament cannot vote on it. Due to this, initially both the houses were adjourned till 12 noon then till 2 pm and finally for the day. The reasons for these adjournments were the same members walking to the well of the House and shouting slogans.
However, a senior leader of the BJP said, “We want a discussion on FDI. They made a lot of noise. The opposition cannot be blamed for disruptions today.” The government also retaliated with the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath saying, “That the government is ready for discussion on all issues but the Parliament should be allowed to function smoothly.”
Sensing the tension between all the parties in Parliament the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has called for an all party meeting on Monday 26 November. It is an effort by the Speaker to break the impasse early in the session so that legislative business can be carried on. Earlier in the day the PM Manmohan Singh also requested all parties to cooperate in the smooth functioning of the House, adding that the government is ready for discussion on all issues.
After the first day of Winter Session the UPA is in a comfortable position. A no confidence motion has been rejected. All the supporting parties including the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are with the government. In fact, the UPA has also been able to dent the NDA’s attack with the Janta Dal United (JDU) asking for discussion under any rule, not insisting on the rule, which entails voting after discussion. JD(U) President Sharad Yadav said, “Our party wants a discussion. It can be under any rule.”
The UPA has ensured that all the allies are on the same page with the government. It has also opened back door channels with other smaller parties. But this is just the first day. Four weeks remain.