New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Tuesday witnessed heated exchanges between opposition and treasury benches over the issue of reply by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh to a short duration debate on calamities.
Members of opposition parties like Congress, NCP, JD-U and RJD also staged a walkout, expressing dissatisfaction over the Minister's response to the drought situation in Maharashtra.
Singh had already intervened in the debate on calamities last week when Congress was boycotting the House but the opposition yesterday forced the government to agree to field him again to "reply" to the debate.
Today, when Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai invited him to speak on the issue of drought in Maharashtra and other parts of the country, Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said the Minister was not present in the House yesterday and "we are waiting for his reply".
It prompted Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy to say that Singh had intervened during the course of debate last week but the opposition was not present in the House at that time.
He was referring to Congress' boycott of the Lok Sabha for two days while pressing the demand for action against Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for her controversial remarks.
Rudy said when an issue is discussed in which two Ministries are involved, one of them intervenes during debate and the other gives the final reply. That has been the convention being followed in the House, he added.
Saugata Roy (TMC) criticised him, saying, "the newly-appointed Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs should not be like a jack in the box".
Rudy protested against this remark but Roy insisted that "jack in the box" is a parliamentary word.
Roy also countered Rudy's argument, saying there have been occasions when two ministers have given reply to a debate in the last 15th Lok Sabha.
He said then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had given reply to debates on drought in Lok Sabha.
The chair later ruled that when an issue in which two ministries are involved, one gives reply and other minister only intervenes.