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Oppn protests on demonetisation in Rajya Sabha continues

Parliament's winter session

New Delhi : Opposition led by Congress and TMC today forced two adjournments in Rajya Sabha over their demand that the House condoles the killing of 25 armymen since the surgical strikes and the death of 82 persons due to post-demonetisation hardships.

Rejecting the government’s offer for discussion on the situation along the border and resuming the debate on demonetisation of 500 and 1000 rupee notes, Opposition members trooped into the Well shouting anti-government slogans, forcing Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to adjourn the proceedings till noon.

When the House reassembled at noon, the uproar continued and the Question Hour could not be taken up, forcing Chairman Hamid Ansari to adjourn the proceedings till 1400 hours.

No sooner had the House assembled for the day, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said there should be an obituary reference for the seven army personnel including two officers in terrorist attack at Nagrota armybase near Jammu yesterday as well as for the 82 persons who died because of the “wrong policies of government.”

As other opposition members joined in, Kurien got listed papers laid on the table.

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said he had given a notice under rule 267 for an obituary resolution to mourn the martyrdom of 25 army personnel since the surgical strikes across the LoC, and the death of 82 people standing in queues io get valid currency after the ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes. Kurien, however, said the notice is not permitted.

Azad said it was a serious issue if “we are not ready to pay homage” to brave soldiers and those who died because of the “wrong policies” of the government.

Charging government with being insensitive, Mayawati (BSP) said demonetisation was done without preparation and a condolence message has to be brought before the House.

Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government was ready for discussion on both the issues mentioned by the Opposition.

While the discussion on demonetisation should be resumed, the government is ready for a discussion on the situation along the border, he said.

When Sharad Yadav (JD-U) also spoke on the currency issue, Jaitley snapped at him asking him to first discuss demonetisation within his party and decide if it is against the move or for it.

His remark was apparent reference to JD-U Chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar supporting demonetisation.

“We are not against demonetisation. We are against the restrictions that have been placed (on withdrawals from own accounts),” Yadav shot back.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) demanded that the government pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to the kin of all those who lost their lives due to hardship caused by demonetisation.

As the opposition members trooped into the Well, Kurien said the government is ready for discussion on both the issues and they should decide which of the two should be discussed first.

But Opposition members continued to shout slogans like “Sharam Sharam Karo, Narendra Modi Sharam Karo (Shame on you Narendra Modi)”, “Garib Virodhi Yeh Sarkar Nahi Chalegi, Nahi Chalegi (Anti-poor government will not be tolerated)” and “Modi Teri Tanashahi Nahi Chalegi (Modi’s dictatorship will not be tolerated).”

With his pleas going unheeded, Kurien adjourned the proceedings till noon.

When the House met again, Chairman Hamid Ansari called for Question Hour to be taken up, but the Opposition members were again on their feet raising objections.

Soon the members of Congress, TMC, Left, SP, BSP and DMK stood in the aisles and started raising slogans. Later, when they raised slogans of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” the treasury bench members too joined them in shouting the same slogan.

“There is total agreement in the House”, Chairman Ansari commented sarcastically and wondered why the House was not being allowed to run.

As the din continued, Ansari adjourned the House till 1400 hours.

As the House reassembled at 1400 hours, the protests continued as Opposition members kept on demanding that the House should condole the killing of armymen and the death of 82 persons due to post-demonetisation hardships.

Azad demanded a statement from the Defence Minister on the Nagrota attack.

“Defence Minister should come and give the statement. When such a big incident has happened…We want to know the status,” the Leader of Opposition said.

To which, Naqvi said, “The Operations are still on. We will give reply at an appropriate time.”

The Chair also said that the issue can be debated later.  “Where the country is one, all MPs are one. …What the Minister said is that the operation is going on. After that, information will be shared. We can have debate later,” the the Deputy Chairman said.

Congress member Rajiv Shukla said, “Many of our soldiers have died. Many have died standing in queue after demonetisation. We need to offer condolences to both in this House.”

Pramod Tiwari (Cong) said the House has tradition of offering condolences and it should do first.

“Modi government’s policies has been such that they is threat to our border security,” he said but did not elaborate.

To this, Deputy Chairman said, “With regard to obituary, we will do at an appropriate time.”

Amid noisy scenes, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said, “Our soldiers are fighting against enemies. We must be sensitive and united in our approach. Otherwise, it will give wrong message.”

Amid din, TMC leader Derek O’Brien said, “We want the debate (on demonetisation which was initiated on November 16) to continue but the Prime Minister is speaking outside Parliament and painting all political parties in poor light. He should apologise.”

CPI (M) member T K Rangarajan said, “….the government is spreading rumour that bandh was failure. The government should apologise.”

Trying to convince the Opposition, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the armymen are fighting at borders and they are still on job. “We are ready for debate on this issue,” he said.

But the unrelenting Opposition MPs assembled near the Chairman’s podium, raising slogans “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.”

The Chair expressed happiness over MPs shouting “at least acceptable slogans”.

Naqvi said, “We welcome your slogans but come for discussion.”

As slogan-shouting continued, the Chair warned the Opposition members that he would adjourn the House.

As the pleas for order went unheeded and Opposition members continued raising slogans demanding resignation of the Defence Minister, Kurien adjourned the House for the day.

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