Friday, March 18, 2011

WikiLeaks expose: Parliament disrupted; Both houses adjourned

New Delhi, March 18, 2011

\\The Wikileaks expose on the alleged 'cash-for-votes' scam in 2008 today disrupted Parliament proceedings, as a united Opposition demanded a clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the matter.

Soon after the Lok Sabha assembled, Speaker Meira Kumar asked Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj to move a calling attention on the problems being faced by Indian fishermen due to frequent attacks by Srilankan Navy.

However, Ms. Swaraj said "The government has lost its moral right to rule" after the expose of the contents of the American diplomatic cables alleging that the UPA-I government had bribed MPs to win the 2008 trust vote after the Left parties withdrew support on the Indo-US nuclear deal....(hence) it is not possible to call attention of any minister of this government." Ms. Swaraj demanded a statement from the Prime Minister.

Rising in her support, BJP Parliamentary party chief L.K. Advani pointed out that yesterday also when Ms. Swaraj started her speech, "the entire treasury bench was on its feet" trying to prevent her from speaking.

Countering them, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal strongly objected to Ms. Swaraj raising the Wikileaks issue instead of calling attention of the government on the issue of fishermen listed by her.

"I agree that the Leader of the Opposition has the right to raise any issue in the House, but during Calling Attention she should stick to the subject," Mr. Bansal said.

Ms. Swaraj again demanded that the Prime Minister should come to the House and make a statement. "The entire country is waiting for the Prime Minister to make a statement and explain. This is disrespect to the House." The entire Opposition was on its feet and shouted slogans - 'Call the PM' and 'PM come to the House'. This led the Speaker to adjourn the House till 12.15 hours.

As soon as Rajya Sabha assembled for the day, Mr. Jaitley wanted to speak on the issue, but Congress members, including Mani Shanker Aiyer, E Sudarshan Natchiappan and Saifuddin Soz and DMK member K.P. Ramalingam were on their feet and did not allow him to air his views.

They argued that the scheduled discussion on Tribal Affairs Ministry must be taken up.

Mr. Jaitley said he wanted to give a suggestion so that the House could run.

The Deputy Chairman then said that as per convention whenever Leader of the Opposition wanted to speak, he should be given a chance.

But Mr. Khan's request went unheeded and the Congress went on disallowing Mr. Jaitley to speak.

With both sides unrelenting, the Chair adjourned the House for 15 minutes.

When the House reassembled, the same scenario prevailed with Tribal Affairs Minister Kantilal Bhuria saying that the BJP was not interested in the discussion on tribals. "You are against adivasis. The entire country is watching," he said.

Mr. Jaitley said, "We want the House to run. Let the Prime Minister come and make a statement." As the din continued, the Chair adjourned the House till 1430 hours.

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