Deadlock over Rafale continues in Parliament
New Delhi: The deadlock in Parliament over Rafale fighter jet deal continued on the seventh consecutive day as the Congress stalled the proceedings over its demand for a JPC probe on which the government kept mum, saying it was ready to discuss the controversial deal.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day minutes after its proceedings began. The Lok Sabha managed to do some legislative business amid uproar and was finally adjourned for the day after witnessing two adjournments in the pre-lunch session.
However, amid disruptions by the Congress, the AIADMK and the TDP on different issues, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 that ensures effective regulation of surrogacy and prohibits commercial surrogacy was discussed and passed by voice vote in the Lok Sabha.
As the Bill was passed, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan called Union Food and Consumer Minister Ramvilas Paswan to initiate debate on the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018.
But the AIADMK, the TDP and the Congress members continued with their protest forcing the Speaker to adjourn the House for the day.
“I can’t solve it. You have to discuss the issue. Please go back to your seats,” Mahajan said requesting the AIADMK members, but they did not relent.
Throughout the proceedings, Congress members kept raising their demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the purchase of 36-ready-to-fly Rafale fighter jets deal. The AIADMK members were protesting Karnataka’s proposal to construct a dam across the Cauvery at Mekadatu.
Telugu Desam Party members, too, protested near Speaker’s podium demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh.
Earlier the House witnessed two adjournments.
When the House reassembled at noon, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a JPC probe which was not accepted by the government.
“Serious apprehension of irregularities have appeared in the Rafale deal. The matter needs to be investigated and accountability needs to be fixed. That’s why we are demanding a JPC probe,” he said.
He said the Supreme Court has given its judgement based on a letter provided by the government.
“Kindly allow a JPC probe. Kindly ask the government to initiate a JPC probe into the matter,” Kharge said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar responded that the government was ready for a discussion on any issue, including the Rafale deal, but maintained silence over the demand for a JPC probe.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, too, said the government was ready for any discussion on Rafale.
Communist Party of India-Marxist MP Mohammad Salim accused the government of lying in Supreme Court on the defence deal and supported the Congress’ demand for a JPC probe.
Trinamool Congress’ Sudip Bandopadhyay said his party wants the House to run. He urged the Speaker to convene a meeting of the leaders to break the deadlock.
Amid the din, an AIADMK member tore a piece of paper and threw it in the air near the reporters’ table.
Soon after Mahajan adjourned the House till 2 p.m.
Earlier, she adjourned the House during the Question Hour after her attempts to run the House failed with disruptions continuing.
The Rafale issue also rocked the Rajya Sabha as the Congress members demanded a JPC probe forcing Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to adjourn the House for the day within minutes after it met.
It failed to transact any business.
The Congress members sought an apology from the government for misleading both the House and the Supreme Court on the acquisition and pricing of Rafale jets, while others trooped near the chair holding placards to demand a JPC probe into the deal.
The AIADMK and DMK members protested on the Cauvery issue.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel accused Congress of disrupting proceedings and said the government is ready for a discussion on all issues, including the Rafale deal.
He said Congress member Anand Sharma had wrongly presented his (Goel’s) statement on Tuesday in order to disrupt the House and urged the Chair to correct the record of the earlier proceedings.
Naidu said he would look at the records to “verify” the claims.
The Congress members loudly objected to Goel’s allegation and many of them were on their toes.
They trooped into the Chair’s podium raising slogans.
Bhupendra Yadav of BJP charged the Congress with deliberately disrupting proceedings of the House. As noisy scenes continued, the Chairman adjourned the House for the day.