M A I N   N E W S

Volcker report rocks Parliament
Govt ready for debate: PM
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
The UN Oil-for-Food Volcker Committee report rocked Parliament today with a determined Opposition stalling the proceedings in both Houses, even as the government conceded that it was ready for a discussion on the issue under rules which required voting.

The boisterous Opposition, were on their feet, moments after Priya Dutt, newly elected member from the Mumbai North-West constituency, took the oath and the Lok Sabha condemned the killing of BRO driver Maniappan Raman Kutty, as “barbaric act” by Taliban.

"The House strongly condemns this barbaric act and hopes that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to justice at the earliest," Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said immediately after the House assembled.

The Speaker, however, disallowed members to raise the issue saying a discussion would be allowed if notices were given by the members.

Mr V.K. Malhotra, deputy leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, demanded the resignation of Mr Natwar Singh and Ms Sonia Gandhi as National Advisory Council Chairperson, as they had been named as "non-contractual" beneficiaries of the pay-offs in the UN report.

"The House can function only if Sonia Gandhi and Natwar Singh resign. It cannot run till then," Mr Malhotra asserted repeatedly.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunshi said the government was ready for a discussion on the Volcker Committee findings and said it could start even straight away.

Opposition members in both Houses demanded suspension of Question Hour, even though a discussion of the issue was there in the list of business of the day to be taken up after Question Hour and laying of papers.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee adjourned the House for 10 minutes and later for the day as the din continued.

In the Rajya Sabha too, the Opposition members demanded suspension of Question Hour and the House was adjourned for the day after a brief adjournment.

Bihar poll results seem to have provided the much needed ammo to the NDA-led Opposition, but at the same time it has taken the sting out of the RJD chief and Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, as he sat unusually quiet in the Lok Sabha.

The Railway Minister, dressed in his usual spotless white kurta pyjama, came to the Lower House five minutes before the House assembled and took the front row along with Sonia Gandhi.

Amidst Opposition cries of resignation of Natwar and Sonia, the RJD leader, otherwise vociferous, was today quiet even as his RJD colleagues joined the treasury benches to protest against NDA’s attempt to disrupt the proceedings.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a statement described as “unfortunate” the disruption of Parliament proceedings by the Opposition on the UN report.

“The government is prepared to discuss the Volcker Committee report today and now,” Manmohan Singh said in a statement issued by his media adviser Sanjay Baru.

Later talking to newspersons, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi accused the Opposition of "running away" from the debate even after their motion was accepted for discussion under a rule that entailed voting. "Of course, they are running away from debate. We admitted their motion under Rule 184 (which calls for voting at the end of debate)... They are not for discussion but for disruption", he said.

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