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UPA-opposition wedge widens in parliament

Wednesday November 23, 2011 09:18:04 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: As an aggressive opposition forced the adjournment of both houses of parliament without transacting much business on the winter session's second day Wednesday over demands for debates on illegal money and the price rise, the wedge between the ruling and opposition parties seems to have widened, threatening a repeat of last year's washed-out winter session.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party put the onus of the smooth functioning of parliament on the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and threatened to continue the disruptions till its demand for debates on the price rise, corruption and black money was accepted.

"It is the government's responsibility to run parliament," BJP leader S.S. Ahluwalia told reporters.

He indicated that his party will cooperate with the Left parties on their notice for debate on price rise that entailed voting, while the Left parties would return the gesture for its notice for adjournment over illegal money.

"Our demands are not illegal. Rules allow adjournment motions in the houses to pave way for discussion by voting. If the government doesn't want the discussion, it should be held responsible for the disruptions," he said.

Returning the opposition barb, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said it was "very unfortunate" parliament was being disrupted for the last two days by the opposition.

"Parliament is a place to discuss concerns of the people. The prime minister has already said whatever issues the opposition wants to raise, the government is ready for discussion. The attitude of the opposition is very unfortunate," he said.

In the two days since the winter session began Tuesday, parliament lost 17 hours of work, causing a cumulative loss of over Rs.4 crore to the national exchequer, considering that an hour of parliament's functioning cost Rs.25 lakh according to rough estimates.

Meanwhile, in the Lok Sabha, MPs from Telangana region, including those from the Congress, flashed placards demanding a separate state and Shiv Sena members sought a hike in cotton rates for farmers in Maharashtra.

The Left parties have been asking the speaker to consider their adjournment motion on price rise even as the government had agreed to have a discussion on inflation under Rule 193 that doesn't entail voting.

The discussion was listed in Wednesday's business but the speaker has apparently decided against the adjournment motion. The ruling threw the Lok Sabha into chaos resulting in the chair adjourning the house for the day.

The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned for the day after the suspension of Question Hour in the morning due to noisy protests.

Giving a further headache to the UPA government, its main ally Trinamool Congress hinted that it may oppose the government on the issue of price rise during the parliament debate.

Railway Minister and senior Trinamool leader Dinesh Trivedi said: "TMC will always be with the people. We are a responsible party and TMC will never do anything which will create problems for the common people."

But it does not pose a danger to the government, as the UPA ally from West Bengal would still vote with the government.

Asked whether Trinamool would support the government if there is voting on the issue of price rise, Trivedi said: "Yes, but in parliament allies also express their views."

Trinamool had opposed petrol hike by the central government and its members had also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said "there is no use of holding another discussion" on price rise in parliament without voting, as two such debates had taken place earlier.

"But the government has not initiated any concrete steps to check inflation and price rise," CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters outside Parliament House.

"The discussion should only be held under the rule which entails voting, so that there is pressure built on the government to initiate concrete steps to curb inflation and check price rise," he added.






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