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Rajya Sabha adjourned over opposition demand for discussion on fuel price hike

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New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day on Tuesday amid a continued uproar by the opposition, led by the Congress, over a demand for a discussion on the rising fuel prices.

The House could not transact any substantial business as it first witnessed an adjournment at around 11.20 am till noon and another one till 2 pm.

When the Upper House of Parliament reassembled again at 2 pm, the opposition continued to demand a discussion on the rising fuel prices even as Deputy Chairman Harivansh, who was in the chair, appealed to the protesting members, including those in the Well, to return to their seats.

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a debate on the issue.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, after moving the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2021, insisted on taking it up. The bill seeks to replace an ordinance in this regard and has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

The deputy chairman called Congress member Vivek Tankha to speak on it but the latter urged him to listen to Kharge first, saying, “How can I speak when the Leader of Opposition is standing?”

Kharge continued to press for a discussion on the fuel price hikes and demanded that the rates be brought back to the 2013-2014 levels.

He said the entire country is suffering due to the price hike of fuel and essential commodities and urged the Chair to allow a discussion on it, referring to his social background.

Harivansh, however, said since the chairman has already disallowed the notice, it cannot be reopened and called Manoj Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to speak on the bill, on which the latter said the House is not in order.

Meanwhile, the uproar by the opposition continued amid sloganeering.

As the Chair urged the members to allow the House to run, Senior Congress MP Anand Sharma said according to the tradition of the House, no government bill is taken up when the opposition is demanding a discussion over an important issue.

“It is an unfortunate thing that repeatedly the norms are being violated. When the opposition is raising an issue, the government should not try to introduce a new business without first settling the question raised by the opposition,” he said and added, “The opposition has a right to take up the issue.”

Amid the uproar, the deputy chairman adjourned the House for the day.

Earlier, Congress members, joined by those of other opposition parties, trooped to the well and persisted with their demand for a discussion, despite Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu already disallowing the notice moved by Kharge.

When the House met at noon, the deputy chairman urged the protesting members to take their seats and allow the Question Hour to go on. He said since the chairman has already disallowed the notice, it cannot be reopened.

The opposition members, however, continued to protest and raise slogans against the government.

The deputy chairman continued with the Question Hour, but adjourned the House till 2 pm after the protesting members raised their pitch. Only one question could be taken up amid the din as the proceedings were inaudible.

“I urge all members, including the LOP, that after the chairman has given his decision on the notice, it cannot be reopened. I urge all members to allow the Question Hour to function as it is the members’ time,” the deputy chairman said.

Soon after the listed official papers were laid on the table, members of the Congress, DMK, Left parties, BSP and Shiv Sena were on their feet seeking setting aside of the business to take up a discussion on the fuel price hikes.

The deputy chairman said notices under rule 267 were received from Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP), Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Kharge, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi.

The chairman has already given his ruling, rejecting the notices under rule 267, and hence, the notices cannot be reopened, he added.

The issue of fuel price, the deputy chairman said, can be deliberated upon during the discussion on the working of ministries and finance bills as well as in the short-duration discussion sought on the issue.

Harivansh asked the members to return to their seats after they trooped to the well and requested them to allow the Zero Hour to be taken up so that MPs can raise issues of public importance.

Amid the continued slogan-shouting by the opposition, Siva said the issue of a relentless rise in petrol and diesel prices has to be discussed.

Bhupendra Yadav of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) countered him, saying the ruling of the chairman is final and the notices cannot be reopened.

With the ruckus continuing, the deputy chairman adjourned the proceedings till 12 noon.

The price of petrol has, for the first time, crossed the Rs-100 mark in states such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra and has registered record highs elsewhere. Diesel rates too are at a record high as international oil prices bounced back from last year’s lows.

Lok Sabha proceedings were also adjourned for the day amid protests by opposition members over the rising fuel prices.

When the House reconvened at 2 pm, several opposition members demanded a rollback of the fuel price hikes.

As the protests continued, Rajendra Agrawal, who was in the Chair, adjourned the proceedings for the day.

During the Question Hour, opposition members, mainly from the Congress, trooped to the Well and started raising slogans.

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