Rajya Sabha begins discussion on Budget amid uproar over Karnataka crisis

PTI

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu at Rajya Sabha (PTI)

Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu at Rajya Sabha (PTI)

Uproar by Opposition Congress over political crisis in Karnataka stalled major part of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the second straight day on Wednesday.

But the national party finally agreed to continue the debate on Budget in an orderly manner on Thursday. The Upper House was adjourned thrice, before being adjourned for the day after the Treasury and Opposition benches agreed to continue the discussion on Budget on Thursday from 11 hours discontinuing Zero and Question Hour.

Post-lunch, the debate on the Budget 2019-20 began amid din as Congress MPs trooped into the Well during the entire discussion period.

The other Opposition Members also were on their feet.

Senior Congress leader and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who was to initiate the debate in the Upper House, did not speak amid noisy scenes despite the chair calling his name repeatedly.

As no one could hear the debate, Samajwadi Party members staged a walk out saying they cannot discuss in a noisy atmosphere. A BJD member also said he would speak when the House is in order.

Later, both ruling and Opposition Congress discussed and came to a consensus.

“We have agreed to continue the discussion on Budget tomorrow from 11 am. (Anand) Sharma has urged presence of the  Finance Minister in the House during the debate. There is an understanding on this,” Leader of the House Thawarchand Gehlot said after protesting members returned to their seats.

Deputy Leader of Opposition Anand Sharma said the party has “agreed” for discussion on the Budget Thursday.

“My party and Opposition are serious about the discussion on Budget. I requested the finance minister to be present in the House. Tomorrow, let there be an orderly debate and I request the Chair to adjourn the House for the day,” he said.

Sharma also said the Congress is agitated on an important issue related to the developments in Karnataka and he does not want to elaborate. The party wanted to convey to the public.

Deputy Chairman Harivansh adjourned the House for the day saying it was good there was a consensus on the matter and the debate on the budget will be held in an orderly manner.

Only three members — Suresh Prabhu (BJP), A NavneethaKrishnan (AIADMK) and Narendra Jadhan (Nominated) participated in the debate. Anil Desai (SS) was asked to continue the discussion on Thursday.

The Upper House was adjourned till 3 PM barely five minutes after it reconvened at 2 PM following two adjournments in the pre-lunch period.

As soon as the Rajya Sabha reconvened at 2 PM, Sharma sought to raise the issue of developments in Karnataka crisis. However, the Deputy Chairman said he cannot allow a discussion on any other issue except on the Budget, and told Chidambaram to speak on it As protests and sloganeering from Congress members continued in the Well of the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said if Rajya Sabha was not allowed to function it will be “inevitable” to extend Parliament session beyond July 26 so that all business can be completed.

“Let them (Congress) say whatever they want on the Karnataka issue or any other state issue, but let them allow the business to continue and the Budget discussion to continue.

“After that we have many Bills, otherwise it will be inevitable to extend Parliament beyond July 26. I appeal to them earnestly to allow the Budget discussion,” Joshi said.

He said Karnataka’s minister DK Shivakumar was not allowed to enter the hotel in Mumbai where Congress MLAs are lodged, as they have alleged that there is a threat to their life from him and have sought police protection.

“They are there in Mumbai and they have given complaint to the police commissioner of Mumbai not to allow Shivakumar.

It is none of our business,” he said.

Harivansh again appealed to Chidambaram to speak on the Budget and said he cannot allow discussion on any other issue.

However, when the former Finance Minister did not get up for speaking, Harivansh told former Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu to speak.

Prabhu began speaking on the Budget but as the uproar in the House continued, Deputy Chairman Harivansh was forced to adjourn the Rajya Sabha till 3 PM.

When the House reassembled, the Opposition Congress MPs trooped into the well over the Karnataka crisis and kept shouting slogans.

The Deputy Chairman made it clear that barring the debate on Budget, nothing will go on record and repeatedly urged the members to allow the proceedings of the House saying the business advisory committee has scheduled 12 hours for debate on budget.

With an unrelenting opposition, he asked Suresh Prabhu to continue speaking on the budget.

However, as Prabhu stood to speak, the opposition members on the Well started raising slogans in front of him.

Prabhu then shifted to the third row from the first and spoke for about 45 minutes, a large part of which was not audible in the din.

Prasing the budget and the intiatives taken for the masses, Prabhu termed the Budget visionary and that the government has been able to generate employment.

The Modi government was moving towards sustainable development of the country, taking aspirational steps of social welfare and development in a concerted manne to achieve the target of ‘Sabka sath sabka vikas”, he said.

A point of order was raised by Binoy Viswam (CPI) that Prabhu was not addressing the House from his designated seat.

This was overruled by the Chair saying the sitting arrangement allotment was not finalised and that there will be no point of order.

Narendra Jadhav (nominated) termed the Budget as the finest saying the provisions in it will result in India becoming a USD 5 trillion economy. A Navanethakrishnan amid the din praised the Budget.

Earlier the House witnessed two adjournments in the pre-lunch period that saw the Zero Hour and the Question Hour being disrupted.

(PTI)