New Delhi: Absence of senior ministers during
a discussion on price rise in Lok Sabha today led to a brief
disruption of proceedings with Opposition refusing to
participate in the debate till they came to the House.
As the House met after the lunch recess, Leader of the
Opposition Sushma Swaraj raised the issue with Deputy Speaker
Karia Munda, asking him why senior ministers were not present
when the House was having a debate on such a serious issue.
Swaraj said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture
Minister Sharad Pawar, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal were absent
when the price rise issue concerned their ministries.
"Not one senior minister whose ministries are responsible
for price rise is available in the House. Senior leaders of
opposition parties are waiting to speak on the issue, but
these minister did not find it that serious to listen to them.
Is that why they wanted to discuss the issue under a provision
that does not entail voting?" she asked.
Swaraj wanted the adjournment of the House till the time
the ministers who had gone for lunch returned.
When Munda ask SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav to speak,
Swaraj said no opposition leader will participate in the
debate if the ministers were absent.
At that time Cabinet minister Ambika Soni and two
ministers of state were present, including Bansal`s deputy V
Narayanasamy, who tried to counter Swaraj`s contention.
Narayanasamy said the Leader of the Opposition, who knew
parliamentary procedures, was "setting a wrong precedent" and
noted that it was not mandatory for all ministers to be
present in the House during debates.
He said the deputies of these ministers were already
present to take note of the sense of the House and convey it
to the ministers.
Swaraj contended that she was only pointing out the
established convention of the House that the ministers
concerned be present when issues related to their ministries
"This is the established convention of this House and
please show some respect to this House," she told the treasury
Swaraj was supported by SP members including their leader
Mulayam Singh Yadav and RJD members led by Lalu Prasad.
Soon, Deora walked into the House and took his seat as did
Home Minister P Chidambaram, following which the debate