The key Finance Bill 2018-19 could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as protests by opposition parties and the Telugu Desam Party over issues like bank scams and special status demand for Andhra Pradesh continued for the seventh day, disrupting proceedings in the House.
Both Question Hour and Zero Hour were washed out as scores of members from the TDP, Congress, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Telangama Rashtra Samiti and Trinamool Congress trooped into the Well, forcing Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the proceedings first for an hour.
The Lok Sabha was scheduled to take up the Finance Bill 2018-19 and Appropriation bills for FY 2017-18 and 2018-19.
However, when the House reassembled at noon, the protests continued and no legislative business could be carried out.
Most of the protesting members were heard shouting ‘we want justice’.
Members from the TDP, which quit the central government last week but remains part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance, were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh. They were holding placards which read 'Follow alliance dharma'.
Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress was also raising the Andhra Pradesh issue.
While the Congress and the Trinamool Congress were raising the issue of scam at Punjab National Bank, the TRS sought increased reservation quota and the AIADMK wanted the government to constitute the Cauvery management board.
One of the protesting members in the Well was holding a placard which read 'Chotta Modi kahan gaya', referring to diamond merchant Nirav Modi, allegedly the key person behind the Rs 12,700crore-fraud at Punjab National Bank.
Some members from the Left parties, while standing at their seats, were holding some photographs.
As the bedlam continued, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings for the day after the tabling of reports of various standing committees.
The Lok Sabha has failed to transact substantial business on account of frequent disruptions since March 5 when the second leg of the Budget Session of Parliament commenced.
Meanwhile, The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday blamed the Congress for the impasse in Parliament and dubbed it ‘anti-democratic’, claiming that the party continues to have contempt for democracy as it had during the Emergency.
Briefing reporters on the BJP parliamentary party meeting, which was also attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its president Amit Shah, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the government has been talking to different parties to break the deadlock in Parliament and targeted the Congress.
In the meeting, Kumar had spoken to parliamentarians about continuing deadlock in Parliament.
The Rajya Sabha proceedings were also washed out for the seventh day on Tuesday as protests by members including those from NDA allies continued on various issues like the PNB fraud and special status demand for Andhra Pradesh.
The unabated protests had forced the adjournment of the House about 15 minutes after it had assembled till 2 pm.
When it re-assembled at 2 pm, the protesting MPs, including those from the NDA partner TDP, trooped into the Well raising slogans and displaying placards.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who was in the Chair, tried to take up a calling attention motion on strategic storage of crude oil and petroleum products in the country and asked Chunibhai Kanjibhai Gohel of BJP to initiate the discussion.
However, the members in Well, including those from TDP who were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh and AIADMK who were seeking immediate setting up of Cauvery River Management Board, continued to raise slogans and displaying placards.
An anguished Kurien said ‘This is not fair’.
"If this is the way MPs are behaving, I will adjourn the House. She (a TDP) member is showing a placard which is against the rule...this is misbehaviour. I don't agree with this....," he said before adjourning the proceedings for the day.
Earlier the House was adjourned till 2 pm as unabated protests continued, with the Trinamool Congress and other parties insisting that a discussion on the bank scam be held under a rule that entails voting.
When the House met at 11 am, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu appealed to members to allow the proceedings, but adjourned the proceedings the moment members from parties of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, TMC and Congress were on their feet.
The government, he said, has agreed for discussion on the issues being pressed by the opposition, but the Trinamool Congress and other parties wanted the debate under a rule that entails voting.
Naidu said discussions on India's biggest bank fraud and other issues have been permitted under rule 176 that provides for a member to give notice of a Short Duration Discussion for raising a matter of urgent public importance without the voting clause.
But opposition parties wanted a discussion on the bank fraud issue under rule 168/169 that required voting on a resolution.
After congratulating Indian medal winners at Archery World Cup and ISSF World Shooting Championships, Naidu said it is against the rules to speak without permission of the Chair as well as making comments while being seated.
Seven days have been lost in Opposition protests, he said.
"I make an earnest appeal to leaders of parties and members that House be allowed to function because people are being impatient and (adjournments and protests) show Parliament in poor light," Naidu said.
He said the protesting parties were also demanding discussions on Cauvery Water Management Board, special package for Andhra Pradesh and fraud at PNB.
"The government is agreeable to that and the Chair has also permitted," he said, adding "I don't find any reason for agitation."
He also urged the members not to bring banners and placards into the Well. "Please desist from displaying banners and placards in the House," he said.
The Chair, he said, is willing to allow discussion and made an appeal to allow the House to function. "Let us put an end to this... it is my earnest appeal.... Let the House function effectively. Let us raise the level of debate."
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said his party has given a notice for discussion on the PNB fraud issue under rule 168.
He said rule 169 of Rules of Procedures of Conduct of Rajya Sabha requires 15 conditions to be met for raising such a discussion and his notice meets all of them.
"If my motion is not accepted, principle of natural justice will be denied," Roy said.
But Naidu said a discussion can be allowed under rule 176, which was not acceptable to the opposition members.
They soon started to rise from their places to protest and some MPs from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh began moving towards the Well, prompting Naidu to adjourn the proceedings till 2 pm.
Earlier, Naidu also asked members not to make comments while being seated. His remark was in reference to catcalls being made from treasury benches when he called P Chidambaram to lay on the table a Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Home Affairs.
As Chidambaram was absent, someone from the treasury benches remarked that he must be in prison. This led to forceful protests and comments from opposition Congress side.
Naidu ruled that no comment made by either side would go on record. Chidambaram's son Karti is in judicial custody in an alleged bribery case.
'Don't beg, this is independent India'
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has often made clear his dislike for 'colonial terms' and on Tuesday he again asked ministers to refrain from using them during proceedings.
Called to lay listed papers, Minister of State for Finance P Radhakrishnan began by saying 'I beg to lay....' Naidu immediately quipped that the minister should just use the term 'I rise' to lay the papers and not 'beg to'.
Radhakrishnan corrected himself when his name was again called to lay Comptroller and Auditor General reports a short while later, as he began by saying 'I rise to lay....'
Naidu had brought minor changes in the conduct of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha from day one, asking ministers and members not to use colonial terms while laying papers on the table.
Presiding over the Upper House proceedings on the opening day of the winter session of Parliament in December, Naidu had said, "Just say I rise to lay on the table.... No need to beg... this is independent India."
He had made the observation after the ministers called to lay the listed papers on the table, began their sentences by saying "I beg to lay on the table the papers listed against my name...."