Peace in Lok Sabha after two adjournments

Peace returned to Lok Sabha on Wednesday afternoon when the motion of thanks on the President`s address was moved.

New Delhi: Peace returned to Lok Sabha on Wednesday afternoon when the motion of thanks on the President`s address was moved, with an unrelenting Opposition having forced two adjournments demanding that the hike in fuel prices be rolled back.

The House resumed, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh present, at 2 pm Congress` Inderjit Singh moved the motion to thank President Pratibha Patil for her address to the joint session of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget session last week.

Inderjit Singh regretted that the motion of thanks was being moved late due to commotion by Opposition members.

"I move the motion with a heavy heart. Because the President`s institution is apolitical. It is the institution nurtured and cultured in the last 60 years," the Congress MP from Gurgaon said.

"The motion should have been moved earlier. It didn`t happen (because) there was some kind of commotion. Parties had compulsion, electoral compulsions perhaps," he said, referring to continuous disruptions of the house by the Opposition over rising prices.

President Patil had addressed the joint session of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha February 22 - the first day of the session.

Earlier in the day, the House saw two disruptions. As soon as members convened at noon after an earlier adjournment, Opposition MPs were on their feet and walked purposefully towards the Speaker`s podium.

Deputy Speaker Karia Munda appealed to members to allow Parliament to function but it fell on deaf ears as a determined Opposition kept shouting, "Yeh sarkar nikammi hain (This government is useless)."

Realising no business could be transacted in the din, Munda adjourned the House till 2 pm.

When the House convened in the morning for Question Hour after a four-day Holi break, Samajwadi party members went up to the Speaker`s podium shouting slogans against the fuel price rise. Main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members followed suit.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar sensed the mood of the Opposition MPs and adjourned the House for an hour.

The price issue led to a rather piquant situation in the Rajya Sabha, where Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was to reply to a short duration discussion on the rising prices of essential commodities. The Opposition said they would only listen to him if he also addressed the fuel price hike issue.

When the House reassembled at 12 noon after it was adjourned for an hour and Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan called on Pawar to deliver his reply, SS Ahluwalia and other BJP MPs, joined by the entire Opposition, objected vehemently.

Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley interjected: "The issue is connected to the debate on price rise. We would have liked to hear the minister but in between came the Budget and the hike in fuel prices.

"When Parliament is in session you (the Prime Minister) chose if not a foreign land then midair (to declare there would be no rollback of prices). The Prime Minister should have been more serious. Let the Prime Minister come to the House and explain."

Rahman Khan, however, said he could not direct this.

Ahluwalia added to the demand, saying: "Let the Prime Minister come at 2 pm and make a statement." Khan responded: "No, no, I can`t ask the government to make a statement. You can raise this issue during the debate on the budget."

Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist wondered whether the prime minister`s statement constituted a breach of privilege of the house. Khan said this was not so.

His pleas for order falling on deaf ears, Khan adjourned the house till 2 pm.