Parliament paralysed on Wikileaks expose

New Delhi: The Wikileaks` expose on the cash-for-votes issue paralysed proceedings in Parliament today with Opposition demanding immediate discussion on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s statement on the matter.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed three adjournments and the Lok Sabha one as an aggressive Opposition insisted on taking up the debate straightaway notwithstanding government`s plea that Finance Bill be taken up first in the Lok Sabha.

Speaker Meira Kumar told Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj that her notice of Breach of Privilege against the Prime Minister was being examined by her.

This prompted Swaraj to press for discussion on the Prime Minister`s statement noting that she along with Sharad Yadav (JD-U) and Yashwant Sinha (BJP) have given notice for such a debate under Rule 193, which does not entail voting.

Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee wanted the Finance Bill to be taken up first to ensure it being taken up early in the Rajya Sabha as per Constitutional requirement.

"I do not think heaven is going to fall if we take up the Finance Bill first. I assure you that we will have the discussion after the Finance Bill is passed. I am not making it a prestige issue," Mukherjee said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley rose to say that he had given two notices – one on privilege motion against the Prime Minister and the other seeking a discussion under Rule 176, which does not entail voting.

Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan said Chairman Hamid Ansari was seized of the matter and a decision was yet to be taken on the two notices given by the Leader of the Opposition.

However, BJP members persisted that Jaitley should be allowed to speak.

In the meanwhile, Congress members began waving a weekly news magazine, which carried reports on alleged irregularities during the NDA regime when senior BJP leader Arun Shourie was the Disinvestment Minister.

Khan had a tough time in persuading Congress members to allow the LoP to speak. Though he repeatedly said the Leader of the Opposition should be allowed to speak as it is his privilege, the ruling side members were unrelenting and shouted "no, no".

Khan then adjourned the House for 15 minutes.