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Furore over absence of Ministers

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Absence of the Ministers of Commerce forced the government on Thursday to reschedule discussion and passage of The Rubber (Amendment) Bill, 2009, in the Lok Sabha. Though Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said the government had informed the Speaker in advance of the absence of the two Ministers, the Opposition remained unrelenting and the House had to be adjourned.

Trouble began when Minister for Science & Technology Prithviraj Chavan, sought to step in for Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. Immediately, deputy leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sushma Swaraj wanted to know the where Mr. Sharma and Minister of State for Commerce Jyotiraditya Scindia were.

Mr. Bansal’s explanation that the Ministers were overseas for multi-lateral events, did not satisfy Ms. Swaraj as she wanted to know if there was any particular deadline by which the Bill had to be passed. The government felt the Bill was urgent as it would impact thousands of small rubber planters. “If the government is so committed to small rubber planters, then the Ministers should have been here,” said Ananth Kumar (BJP).

Sensing that the Opposition was unlikely to allow the Bill to be taken up for discussion, Deputy Speaker Kariya Munda adjourned the House for an hour.

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