New Delhi: Government on Friday faced embarrassment in Lok Sabha due to absence of Railway Minister DV Sadananda Gowda or his deputy when the railway budget was taken up for discussion.
Realising that the two ministers were absent, the Opposition was quick to make it an issue with Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury telling the Chair that the government was "totally indifferent".
"I am formally registering my protest. The concerned minister is absent...It is demeaning the dignity of the House. This government is totally indifferent. They are not at all serious," he said.
Chowdhury, who was asked by the Chair to speak on rail budget, pointed out that at least the minister concerned was expected to be present when the House discussed important issues concerning the people.
When Chowdhury said he would start speaking on the railway budget only when the minister is present, KV Thomas who was in the Chair, ruled that the government was working on the principles of "collective responsibility" and Gowda`s colleagues in the Cabinet were present.
However, Chowdhury said that none of them was attached to the Railway Ministry and demanded adjournment of the House till the time ministers concerned were present. He was joined by the Opposition members KC Venugopal (Congress), NK Premachandran (RSP) and Saugata Roy (TMC).
Amid protests, the Chair also expressed displeasure over the absence of the ministers, saying, "It is good that if ministers concerned are here."
Minister of State for Finance Nirmala Sitaraman said the Government respects the sentiments of members and the ministers would be in the House in a few minutes. She also assured the House that such a situation would not recur.
Cornered by the opposition, Gowda and his deputy Manoj Sinha, who reached Lok Sabha after 10 minutes post-lunch, apologised to the House before order was restored and Congress leader and former railway minister Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury initiated the debate.
Amid protest, Sinha reached the House and apologised for being not present from the very beginning.
The Chair then observed that ministers concerned should be in time. Gowda, who came late, said, "I apologise for the delay".