Wednesday, March 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Fertiliser price hike rocks LS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 4
The hike in fertiliser and diesel prices today rocked the Lok Sabha for the second day with angry Opposition members storming the well seeking their immediate rollback and threatening to launch a nationwide agitation.

In the midst of turmoil, Speaker Manohar Joshi adjourned the House half an hour ahead of lunch time.

The Opposition members, including those of the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the RJD and the Left, trooped into the well during zero hour and shouted slogans “Mulya vridhi wapas lo, varna gaddi chod do, Kisan virodhi yeh sarkar, nahi chalegi nahi chalegi (rollback prices or quit the government, this anti-farmer government will not work).”

The entire Opposition staged a walkout yesterday on this issue.

As the angry members continued shouting slogans, Mr Joshi went on calling members to speak on their zero notices but nothing was audible. Some members did not speak.

Mr Joshi’s repeatedly asked members to go back to their seats but his pleas went unheeded.

“Since the zero hour notices are over, I am adjourning the House till 1.30 p.m.” the Speaker said.

The Opposition members accused the government of playing politics with farmers and said BJP leaders and Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh were also against the hike announced in the Union Budget last week.

The issue was raised by Mr Ramjilal Suman (Samajwadi Party) and Mr Priyaranjan Dasmunsi and Mr Shivraj Patil (Congress) who said the government should immediately withdraw the hike.

Mr Dasmunsi said while the BJP President and the Agriculture Minister had opposed the hike, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Finance Minister Jaswant Singh had favoured it.

Accusing the government of speaking in different voices, the Congress Chief Whip wanted to know whether it believed in collective responsibility.

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