Tuesday, April 18, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Oppn stages walkout in LS

NEW DELHI, April 17 (PTI) — Angry Opposition members today walked out of the Lok Sabha protesting against the rejection of their notices of adjournment motion on hike in prices of essential commodities, cooking gas and urea.

Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi ruled he was disallowing the notices of adjournment motion given by Leader of Opposition Sonia Gandhi and some others as the matter could be discussed during the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address.

In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised by Left party members. Amid noisy scenes Chairman Krishan Kant disallowed them observing that the members had sought a debate on the matter in his chamber and he had told them that he would allow them tomorrow to raise the matter.

Soon after the Lok Sabha assembled for the day after a month-long recess, Congress and Left Party members wanted to know the fate of the notices of adjournment motion from the Chair.

As the Speaker ruled after an impromptu discussion on the price hike that he had rejected their notices, the entire Opposition walked out.

Congress member Rajesh Pilot argued with the Speaker earlier that leaders of Samata Party, JD(U) and Telugu Desam, all partners of the ruling NDA, be given a chance to speak on the issue as they were interested but his plea was turned down by Mr Balayogi.

Speaking on the issue, Mrs Sonia Gandhi said the hike in prices of cooking gas, kerosene, urea, wheat, rice and wheat had caused immense hardships to lower and lower middle class families and the small and medium farmers.

This, she pointed out, had prompted some farmers to commit suicide in rich states like Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.

Pleading with the Speaker that the motion be admitted, she said the admission would focus the government’s attention on the sharp increase in the prices of these commodities which had severely affected those struggling below poverty line.

CPM member N.N. Krishnadas said the entire country was agitated over the increase in the prices of these commodities and demanded that this be withdrawn.

His colleague V. Radhakrishnan strongly protested against the increase and wanted to know what was the urgency when Parliament was in session.

Kerala Chief Minister would stage a dharna here tomorrow to protest against the government’s action, he added.

Attacking the government for bypassing Parliament, P.H. Pandian (AIADMK) said the NDA had assured the people that there would be no price hike and yet it reversed on the issue.

CPM member Roopchand Pal asked the NDA partners to come out openly and force the government to withdraw the increase.

Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, CPM members, Basudeb Acharia and Subodh Roy, and Muslim League Member E. Ahmed also protested against the government’s action.

Earlier the second phase of the Budget session of the Lok Sabha today got off to a stormy start with a number of Opposition parties, including the Congress, demanding suspension of the question hour and taking up adjournment motions on different issues.While Deputy Leader of Congress Madhavrao Scindia said Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi has given notice for an adjournment motion on “intolerable” situation for the farming community following subsidy cuts by the government, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav sought to raise the issue of strike by lawyers.

Several Left party members also sought to raise various issues but Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi ruled that he has disallowed all motions seeking the suspension of the question hour and told members that they could raise the issues in the zero hour.

At one stage, Samajwadi Party members threatened to come to the Well of the House.

During the nearly 20-minute din, BSP leader Mayawati protested against the way the government has gone about on the Constitution review. The House later took up the question hour.

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