Speaker foils Opposition bid to stall Lok Sabha on Baalu's issue

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New Delhi, Apr 28 (UNI) A determined Lok Sabha Speaker today foiled the Opposition's attempts to stall the House proceedings on the T R Baalu issue which also haunted the Rajya Sabha for the fourth day today.

When Lok Sabha plunged into pandemonium with sloganeering and counter-sloganeering by Opposition and Treasury members, Mr Somnath Chaterjee ordered shutdown of most lights and television cameras for a brief period to bring order to the House.

Chanting ''dismiss Baalu'' and ''save PMO from malpractices'', the Opposition members trooped into the well of the House.

Retaliating, Treasury benches also resorted to sloganeering, alleging the PMO had been ''misused'' during the tenure of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

In Rajya Sabha, BJP and AIADMK sought clarification from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh while raising the issue of Shipping Minister T R Baalu using the PMO for interceding with the Petroleum Ministry for supply of natural gas for companies owned by his family.

Opposition leader Jaswant Singh, who raised the issue during Zero Hour, said since the Prime Minister's conduct was ''directly involved'', he should clarify the situation in the House. ''We want an answer from the Prime Minister''.

Declining to adjourn Lok Sabha in spite of unruly scenes, Mr Chatterjee ordered switching off of lights and camera ''out of shame'', reiterating ''I am not going to adjourn the House.'' Expressing his annoyance over the members' behaviour and condemning it, the Speaker called on to agree to ''no work no pay principle''.

He said the members wanting to raise the issue without giving any notice and then stalling the proceedings were ''misusing'' their position and he condemned it.

The Opposition finally relented and returned to their seats and allowed proceedings after half an hour of Question Hour was wasted in the ruckus.

In Rajya Sabha, Mr Jaswant Singh described as ''very curious'' the government's argument that the PMO did not mean the Prime Minister. Maintaining that PMO was directly connected with the PM, the BJP leader said the issue was being raised every day but government was not forthcoming, making it complicated. ''This is a matter of grave concern,'' he added.

Amid interruptions by Congress and DMK members, Mr Jaswant Singh wanted to know if the Prime Minister shared the Shipping Minister's view that he had committed no wrong in asking the Petroleum Ministry for supply of the gas to his family's firms.

When the Opposition refused to relent, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi assured the House of the government's response later.


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