RS witnesses pandemonium over Lalu's absence

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New Delhi, Nov 23 (UNI) The Rajya Sabha witnessed turmoil for most part of the Question Hour today over Railway Minister Lalu Prasad's continued absence from the proceedings and the inadequate remunerative prices given to farmers for wheat produce compared to import prices.

Opposition members, including those from the BJP and SP, demanded from Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar the reasons for the huge discrepancies between the import price of Wheat and the Minimum Support Price for farmers announced by the Centre.

The Agriculture Minister, while admitting to the gap between domestic and import prices, said it was because of a sharp hike in international prices during the past seven months.

He said the Government had imported wheat from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Russia and Eastern Europe instead of Pakistan and Australia which had been facing drought for the past two years.

Members from the BJP and other opposition parties wanted the Minister to disclose the price given to the farmers and that paid to other countries for import of the commodity.

Amid the uproar by the opposition, Chairman Hamid Ansari said this was not the proper way of raising the issue and if the members wanted a discussion, it could be allowed under rules.

He asked the agitated members to maintain order and allow the Question Hour to proceed.

The noise continued for about 15 minutes whereafter the Minister said he was ready for a discusison on the issue.

The House again witnessed noisy scenes when, during the reply by Union Minister of State for Railways R Velu to a question pertaining to his ministry, opposition members objected to the repeated absence of the Railway Minister Lalu Prasad from the House.

BJP member S S Ahluwalia raised a point of order saying that in case of absence from the House during the reply to a question pertaining to his Ministry, the Railway Minister had to give in writing to the Chairman allowing him to be away and be represented by his Minister of State.

He wanted to know if the Chairman had received any letter from the Railway Minister in this regard.

Following this, the Chairman read out a letter to the House in which the Railway Minister had sought permission from the Chair for absence from the House and allow him to be represented by the Minister of State for Railways R Velu.

Amid all this uproar, the question related to the Railway Ministry could not be taken up.


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