Baalu issue rocks Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (UNI) The issue of Minister for Shipping and Transport T R Baalu allegedly misusing his position to benefit two companies associated with family today rocked the Rajya Sabha again, forcing its adjournment twice between 1200 hrs and 1400 hrs.

The issue was raised by the BJP members, who were demanding that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh come in the Rajya Sabha and clarify the Govenrment's position in the light of Mr Baalu's statement in the House on April 23.

Mr Baalu, while replying to the charges of AIADMK member Dr V Maitreyan during the Zero Hour on April 23, had admitted that he used his position as a Minister to put a word to the Petroleum Minister to make GAIL restore supply of gas to the two companies.

Dr Maitreyan had said he was basing his charge on the news reports carried by a section of the press, and he had demanded that the Prime Minister respond in the matter as the issue had become more grave after the Minister made the admission in the House.

His persistence to rake up the issue yesterday had even led to Chairman Hamid Ansari telling him that the Chair was about to invoke rule 255 if he persisted in disrupting the House.

Today, as soon as the Zero Hour began at 1200 hrs and Home Minister Shivraj Patil was asked by Prof P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, to make a statement on Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP rose up waiving some documents and demanded that the Prime Minister clarify the government's position on the issue.

Prof Kurien, however, asked him to resume his seat and let the Home Minister make his statement, but Mr Prasad persisted with his demand.

The BJP member was soon joined by other colleagues from his party, including Ms Sushma Swaraj and Arun Shourie, who urged the Chair to allow the issue to be raised as the whole house was agitated over it.

Dr Maitreyan was also seen rising up in an agitated mood.

Mr Gopaldas of the BJP who was asked by the chair to make his scheduled statement, refused to do so saying that the issue which his party members were trying to raise was more important than his statement.

The BJP members kept on shouting, but the Chair said their words will not go on record.

The Home Minister could not read out his statement in the din created by the BJP members. Finally, Mr Kurien announced adjournment of the House till 1230 hrs.

Earlier, the BJP members had registered their protest as the House assembled for day in the morning by placing a finger on their lips to show they were not participating in the Question Hour.

They broke their silence as soon as the Zero Hour began.

When the House reassembled at 1230 hrs, the BJP members resumed their noisy protest, forcing the Chair to adjourn the House again, till 1400 hrs.

UNI NAZ RR BD1330

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