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Opposition stalls proceedings again

New Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: For the second consecutive day on Thursday, the Opposition stalled the proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, protesting against the government’s refusal to set up a joint parliamentary committee on the nuclear deal with the United States.

However, the government went ahead with the business for the day — getting two Bills passed in the Lok Sabha and one in the Rajya Sabha. Both Houses met thrice, only to be adjourned within minutes each time.

In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition had submitted notices for suspension of the question hour but Speaker Somnath Chatterjee refused to admit them. With the Opposition not permitting questions, he adjourned the House within five minutes in the morning.

When it met at noon, papers were tabled, and two Bills — the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill, 2007 and the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 — were passed without discussion before the second adjournment.

Sachar report

Post-lunch, Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal made an attempt to take up the discussion on the Sachar Committee Report under Rule 193, but with the Opposition’s “JPC” chant showing no let-up, the House was adjourned for the day.

In the Rajya Sabha, the first adjournment came within minutes and when the House re-assembled at noon, Deputy Chairman K. Rehman Khan pushed through special mentions, zero hour mentions and got Home Minister Shivraj Patil to table his reply on an earlier discussion even as the Opposition members entered the well of House and raised slogans. Some Ministers also tabled their statements.

Unrelenting in demand

Assembling for the third time after the lunch break, the Opposition was unrelenting in its demand for a joint parliamentary committee, forcing the Chair to adjourn the House for the day.

What was striking was that unlike on Wednesday when they milled around in the well of the House together, on Thursday, National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) members maintained a distance from each other.

While some slogans were common, most UNPA members did not subscribe to the anti-Left slogans raised by the other group.

The NDA was also insisting that the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Jaswant Singh be allowed to speak.

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