August 02, 2015

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE monsoon session of Parliament began on a stormy note on July 21. The Rajya Sabha witnessed multiple adjournments with the opposition demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over the Lalit Modi controversy, and Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh over the Vyapam scam, while the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the whole day after making obituary reference on account of a sitting member’s death. In Rajya Sabha, CPI(M) Leader Sitaram Yechury, in the midst of disruption, said the government must constitute a high-level enquiry to enquire the scams. And till that enquiry is over, let these people demit office or they are to be removed from office. In Lok Sabha, P Karunakaran and Md Salim moved adjournment motion on the same issue. Yechury reminded Leader of the House Arun Jaitley of his remarks when the latter was the Leader of Opposition that ‘a discussion in the House is not a substitute for investigation’, and said “We are not investigator. Investigation has to be done by the investigating agency and in order to ensure the impartiality of the investigation, the people against whom allegations are there should not remain in office and they have to resign.” Then only the discussion is possible. On similar demand, we kept this Parliament not functioning for one whole winter session in December 2010. Therefore, applying the same yardstick, order an investigation and till that investigation is completed, the Minister for External Affairs, and the Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh should not remain in office, he told the Leader of the House. The Parliament impasse continued for the whole week without transacting any business. In Lok Sabha, the Party moved an adjournment motion and in Rajya Sabha, it moved the Suspension of the Business under Rule 267. But the Deputy Chairman did not allow the rule and agreed for discussion, and wrongly stated that CPI(M) had also agreed for discussion. To which, Yechury pointed out that on the first day itself the Party had demanded that discussion could only be allowed if it preceded by an action. This must be corrected in the record too, he demanded. On this the Leader of the House Arun Jaitley made a point of order that the first two days of the session, the Congress had given the motion with a caveat and a condition that the ministers must resign but on that day the motion was given without condition or caveat, and asked for a ruling from the Deputy Chairman. Countering this, Yechury made a point that this is a breach of privilege and asked how the notice given to the Deputy Chairman reached the Leader of the House or the Finance Minister. There was a heated debate on this issue. Yechury reiterated the demand for the ministers’ resignation. Countering Mr Jaitley's charge that the Opposition was unable to point out which law had been violated, he said provisions of both the Representation of the People Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act were violated by the three leaders. The CPI(M) stayed away from the meeting called by Jaitley to end the impasse in Parliament. On skipping the meeting, Yechury said the message was delivered informally with no agenda communicated. The entire week witnessed disruptions in both the Houses of Parliament.