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WikiLeaks: Walkout in LS, RS adjourned
New Delhi, March 22 (IANS)
Published on 22 Mar. 2011 11:42 PM IST
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The WikiLeaks revelations on the cash-for-vote scam rocked parliament Tuesday with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) members in the Lok Sabha, pressing for an early discussion on the issue, staging a walk-out while the Rajya Sabha adjourned for the day after opposition members and treasury benches hurled allegations against each other.
However, despite the walkout, the Lok Sabha took up the discussion on the Finance Bill, which was participated in by the ruling UPA members and MPs belonging to the non-NDA opposition parties.
The Lok Sabha began its proceedings to noisy scenes as opposition leader Sushma Swaraj raised the issue of her privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for “misleading the house” by claiming that a parliamentary panel had found that bribes were not paid to MPs during the 2008 trust vote.
Swaraj said that Manmohan Singh’s statement was contrary to the findings of the Kishore Chandra Deo panel that probed the allegations in the cash-for-votes scam. The BJP and Left Mps demanded an immediate probe into the prime minister’s statement.
Speaker Meira Kumar said she would take a decision on the privilege motion later.
Manmohan Singh had said in a statement in parliament last week that the Deo committee had concluded that there was insufficient evidence of bribery.
However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that the Finance Bill should be taken up first as it was a constitutional requirement.
“I do not think the heavens are going to fall if we take up the Finance Bill first,” Mukherjee said.
“I assure you that we will have the discussion after the Finance Bill is passed. I am not making it a prestige issue,” he added.
Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said the opposition did not want to create any constitutional crisis. “We are also for passage of the Finance Bill, but the privilege motion should be discussed first,” he added.
As the verbal tussle continued, Meira Kumar adjourned the house till 12.30 noon.
Chaos continued when the Lok Sabha re-assembled.
Mukherjee said the Finance Bill should be discussed first. This was proposed at a meeting with the opposition in the morning, he added.
However, Sushma Swaraj insisted that the privilege motion should be taken up immediately.
As P.C. Chacko, who was on the chair, disallowed an immediate discussion on the privilege motion, NDA members, led by Swaraj, walked out of the Lok Sabha.
The lower house proceeded with the debate on the Finance Bill.
The Rajya Sabha saw three adjournments till 2 p.m. before being adjourned for the day as members from both opposition and ruling benches raised the pitch against each other.
As soon as the house met at 11 a.m., opposition leader Arun Jaitley said that his party has submitted notice for admitting privilege motion against the prime minister. He said that a notice was also given to take up discussion on the issues revealed by WikiLeaks.
Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan, who was in the chair, said that Chairman M. Hamid Ansari is “seized of the matter” and the notice for taking up the discussion has not been approved by the chair.
Irked BJP members raised slogans and demanded that the chair allow the discussion on the issue, countering which members from the ruling benches raised the pitch against reported telecom irregularities during the NDA regime.
Congress members waved copies of a newspaper, which carried reports on alleged telecom irregularities during the NDA regime when senior BJP leader, Arun Shourie, held the portfolio.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ashwani Kumar tried to pacify opposition members, urging them to take up the issue after the zero hour.
“Zero hour is an important hour where issues of national importance are raised. Later it can be taken up,” he said.
The house was adjourned for 15 minutes. As the house reassembled, the chair allowed the leader of opposition to speak, but this time, members from the ruling benches protested.
The chair’s attempt to pacify the Congress members failed even as he repeatedly said that leader of opposition should be allowed to speak as it is his privilege but the members from the ruling benches kept shouting “no, no”, and the house was adjourned till 12 noon.
Later, amidst similar scenes, the house was adjourned till 2 p.m. and later for the day.
Amidst the din, the only business that could be transacted was the passage of the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Bill.
The BJP also moved a privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha accusing him of breach of privilege misrepresenting facts about the findings of the parliamentary committee which probed the cash-for-votes scandal.
As per leaked US diplomatic cables, an American diplomat was told that Rs.50-60 crore had been kept aside by the Congress to win over MPs during a 2008 trust vote in parliament. The government has denied the charge.

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