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Parliament adjourned sine die after ruckus over offices of profit

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 22; In what is seen as an unhealthy development in a Parliamentary democracy, the Budget Session of Parliament was abruptly adjourned sine die today instead of breaking for a traditional recess as the Opposition stalled proceedings, alleging the government proposed to bring in an ordinance to prevent the disqualification of Ms Sonia Gandhi and other top leaders for holding offices of profit.

The two Houses were to adjourn today at the end of the first phase of the Budget Session and resume their sittings after about one and a half months on May 10 for the second phase which would have ended on May 23.

However, the Opposition members were on their feet as soon as the two Houses met for the day, drawing attention to a newspaper report which stated that the government was bringing in an ordinance to change the law to redefine the In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee preferred to stay away from the proceedings amid allegations that he too was holding an office of profit.

After repeated adjournments, Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal announced in the evening that the House was being adjourned sine die The House was adjourned five times since the morning -- twice in the pre-lunch session and thrice afterwards on the same issue.

When the house reassembled at 1700 hours after the fifth adjournment, Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat allowed Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh to speak. The move enraged members of the treasury benches, who rose to their feet in protest.

At this time, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri went over to the Chairman to say something, which was objected to by Mr Singh, who walked out in protest. BJP's S S Ahluwalia also went over to Mr Shekhawat to complain.

The situation further worsened as Opposition members started shouting slogans.

Mr Shekhawat then told members that despite earlier intimation that the second part of session would start from May 10, the government had requested him to adjourn the session sine die.

The Chairman accordingly adjourned the house sine die, even as the Opposition members kept on shouting slogans.

In the Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition L K Advani earlier cautioned the government against adjourning the House sine die without properly consulting the political parties. ''Talks are doing rounds that the government has the intention of adjourning the House sine die... if this is true, I will caution the government that if any change has to take place, it has to be executed in consultation with the leaders of all the political parties,'' he said.

While reminding the earlier schedule mentioned the resumption of the Budget session on May 10, to go on till May 23, Mr Advani said any violation by the government would force them to approach the President.

The Left parties took strong exception to the UPA government's ''unprecedented'' decision to abruptly adjourn the Budget Session sine die, and said it seemed that the Centre wanted to promulgate an ordinance to save UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and others from disqualification as members of Parliament for holding office of profit.

While the CPI(M) leadership sought time to analyse and formulate a considered viewpoint,the top leaders of the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc pleaded that the government should have instead asked the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Office of profit and the Election Commission to formulate the guidelines on the crucial issue.

''We are holding the meeting, we will give the reaction, whenever it is ready,'' CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP Brinda Karat told

UNI.

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