Discordant start to winter session, Parliament adjourned
New Delhi: Parliament's winter session started on an acrimonious note Thursday with both houses being adjourned for the day after an aggressive opposition demanded a vote on foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
The Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha witnessed repeated disruptions before being adjourned till Friday.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day at 2 p.m. after being adjourned four times as the BJP, CPI-M and Trinamool Congress members pressed for a vote on the issue of allowing 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retail. Trinamool joined the protest after its no-confidence motion against the government was rejected by the Lok Sabha.
Speaker Meira Kumar said the notices were under consideration.
Earlier, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members rushed towards the speaker's podium. While the SP was demanding withdrawal of LPG price hike, the BSP wanted the house adjourned over the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj urged Speaker Meira Kumar to allow her party's notice for a debate on the FDI in retail under Rule 184, which entails voting. CPI-M members raised slogans making a similar demand.
The Rajya Sabha too saw heated exchanges.
Minutes before the winter session began, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government was willing to discuss all issues in parliament and sought the cooperation of all parties for the smooth functioning of the winter session. However, his appeal fell on deaf ears.
Expressing the hope that members of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha would "come together and address the issues and challenges that we face as a nation", Manmohan Singh said: "We are ready to discuss all issues on the floor of both houses."
Addressing reporters outside parliament ahead of the beginning of the winter session, he appealed for smooth functioning of parliament and said: "We all have an obligation, both in opposition as well as in the government, to work together to enable our parliamentary democracy, of which we are genuinely proud, to grapple with the formidable challenges faced by our country."
"Our country faces many problems on the economic front arising out of the consequences of global economic slow-down. We need to create new jobs on a large scale to provide gainful employment to our youth," he said.
There was, he added, the need "to increase investments in infrastructure and social service like health and education to accelerate the tempo of social economic growth".
"Our government is committed to these thoughts for success requires cohesive collective action on the part of all segments of our politics. I invite all political parties to join hands in this vital national endeavour," he added.
The winter session ends Dec 20. With a shorter time-frame of 16 working days and a heavy agenda of 35 bills -- 25 listed for consideration and passing and 10 for introduction -- the government hopes it would be able to pass important bills, especially those related to economic reforms.