Parliament adjourned till Wednesday over FDI

New Delhi : The parliament stalemate over foreign equity in retail and other issues continued for the ninth day Friday with the opposition and some members of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) vociferously seeking withdrawal of the key reform. Both houses were adjourned till Wednesday.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were adjourned minutes after members gathered in their houses in the morning. Presiding officers first cancelled the Question Hour to meet again at noon. They adjourned both the houses for the day when MPs met again amid din.

Parliament will now resume Wednesday with four days of extended weekend. The houses were already scheduled not to run on Monday. Tuesday is a holiday for Muharram, the day of Muslim mourning.

On Friday, the trouble in the Lok Sabha erupted as soon as the MPs met for the day’s sitting. Opposition and some members of the Trinamool Congress, a constituent of the ruling UPA, created an uproar to press for their demand to revoke the cabinet decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Indian retail market.

As soon as Speaker Meira Kumar took up the Question Hour, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) rose to protest the new reform decision.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member Murli Manohar Joshi also joined him and tried to draw the speaker’s attention to the controversial decision.

Joshi had earlier in the week given a notice for an adjournment motion under a rule that entails voting.

The notice has not been rejected but the government is wary to accept it because if it loses the vote, it will have to withdraw the decision to allow 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retailing and 100 percent in single-brand format.

Pressing the speaker to accept the notice, BJP and Left members raised slogans and demanded that the government should revoke the policy.

Trinamool Congress members also protested the move and some of them shouted slogans demanding “FDI waapas lo, waapas lo”.

There were other issues that created uproar in the Lok Sabha. MPs from Kerala flashed placards demanding a new dam in their state. They urged the government to take steps to deal with the Mullaperiyar Dam issue.

In the Rajya Sabha, protests started as soon as Chairman Hamid Ansari called for the Question Hour.

The house resonated with slogans of “FDI waapas lo…waapas lo…East India Company waapas jao, waapas jao.”

Members from the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Samajwadi Party and the AIADMK protested noisily, creating a bedlam in the house.

Ansari adjourned the house till noon. The pandemonium continued when the members resumed protests at noon, forcing Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan to adjourn the house till Wednesday.

Four days of break in parliament sitting ahead have given the government enough time to chalk out the strategy for ending the current logjam.

The parliament has not done any significant business in the first nine days of the crucial 21-day long winter session that was scheduled to discuss and pass key legislations, including the anti-graft Lokpal bill.

With nine days already wasted, the government has only 12 days of the session left to consider 31 scheduled bills. The session ends Dec 21.

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