Parliament stalled; BJP wants PM, Bansal, Ashwani to quit (Third Lead)

New Delhi, May 7 (IANS) Turmoil continued in parliament Tuesday with the BJP stalling both houses demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ministers P.K. Bansal and Ashwani Kumar. The BJP said it would not allow the passage of any bill unless its demands were met.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, clarified that parliament would be allowed to run if Bansal and Ashwani Kumar step down.

Both houses were adjourned till 12 noon Tuesday morning, minutes after the question hour began at 11 a.m. when the houses met.

When the Lok Sabha resumed its proceedings at noon, members of the BJP walked up to the speaker’s podium demanding the prime minister’s resignation. They also demanded the resignations of Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Railway Minister Bansal.

Speaker Meira Kumar tried to pacify the BJP members but they refused to budge and persisted with their slogan-shouting. As the ruckus continued, Congress MP Francisco Sardinha, who was in the chair, adjourned the house till 1 p.m.

Later, the lower house was adjourned for the day when Congress member Bhakta Charan Das resumed his speech on the debate on the food security bill initiated Monday.

The upper house of parliament witnessed similar scenes with BJP members shouting slogans against the prime minister. Amid the chaos, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien adjourned the house till 2 p.m.

When the Rajya Sabha resumed, BJP members continued with their demand that the prime minister and the other ministers resign.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid tried to introduce a constitutional amendment bill to formalise a land swap agreement with Bangladesh.

However, members of the Asom Gana Parishad snatched the copy of the bill from his hands and amidst the ruckus, Kurien adjourned the upper house for the day, without the bill being introduced.

Both houses have been witnessing repeated disruptions by opposition parties over the allocation of coal blocks and 2G spectrum.

The BJP has insisted on the resignation of the prime minister over the alleged involvement of his office in the irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, but clarified that they would allow parliament to function if Bansal and Ashwani Kumar quit.

“We are still demanding the resignation of the prime minister, but the parliament will function if the law minister and railway minister resign,” BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said Tuesday.

While Bansal’s nephew was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for allegedly taking a bribe for the appointment of a member of the Railway Board, Ashwani Kumar has come under attack in the Supreme Court for vetting the CBI report on coal allocation.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath accused the opposition of double standards.

“Outside the house they say they want the food and land bills. Inside, they don’t let the house run and debate the bills. Other parties want the bill,” he said.

“Both are historic bills. The food bill benefits around 65 percent of the population. The opposition does not want that. The Karnataka (assembly elections) results tomorrow (Wednesday) will decide who is corrupt,” he said.

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