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Bush's Purana Qila visit empties Lok Sabha
March 03, 2006 18:13 IST
President George W Bush's speech at Purana Qila Friday led to an almost empty Lok Sabha as most of the members absented themselves post-lunch to hear the visiting American president speak.
The House had to be adjourned for 15 minutes till 1600 hours for want of quorum.
There were only a handful of members present when the House met at 1530 hours post-lunch after Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's reply to the Railway Budget 2006-07 and the passage of the Demand for Grants on Account (Railways), 2006-07 by a voice vote.
Lalu Prasad, Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan were in their seats by 1530 hours along with a dozen Congress members.
From the Bharatiya Janata Party only five were present, while two-three were from the supporting parties.
When a minister asked where the rest had gone, a Samajwadi Party member quipped, "They have gone to Purana Qila to hear US President George W Bush. You have given them invites." The ruling party members waited for more to come in to complete the quorum.
Ten minutes later, Information Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi and Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chaudhary joined them as more Congress members started trickling in.
But still the quorum could not be completed.
At 1545 hours, an announcement was made that the deputy speaker had adjourned the House till 1600 hours for lack of quorum.
When the House reconvened at 1600 hours for the Private Members' Business, there were again not enough members. It took 10 minutes to complete the quorum.
But immediately after a debate began on a bill at 1610 hours, the members began leaving. Even Lalu Prasad, Chidambaram, Dasmunsi and others who were present earlier left.
Only 18 members -- nine from the Congress, including Social Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar -- were present.
But nobody was complaining.