India: Govt says no to debate and vote on demonetisation, Parliament's Lower House adjourned until Dec 14
'The focus (of the meeting) will be more on the slew of measures announced by the PM on the eve of the new year,' a minister said. Photograph: (Reuters)
The impasse over demonetisation continued for the 16th day in parliament today with the government asking the Opposition to apologise for disrupting proceedings. The Lower House, Lok Sabha, was adjourned until December 14 while the Upper House, Rajya Sabha was adjourned until 2:30pm.
"For 16 days they have disrupted the House and held the House hostage. Majority wanted to debate. But Congress, TMC and Left members are not allowing the House to function. The situation has reached such a stage that the President had to speak against the disruption. They must tender apology to the people of the country," parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said.
He was referring to President Pranab Mukherjee's remarks yesterday that disrupting parliament amounted to "gagging of majority" by minority, ie, the Opposition.
The government also rejected the Opposition's demand for a debate and a vote on demonetisation, with union minister Venkaiah Naidu saying voting has "already happened in 2014 and Time magazine".
Naidu was referring to the general election of 2014 which brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi to power. Mr Modi also recently won the online readers' poll for Time magazine's person of the year.
Naidu also did not seem to think much of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's claim that his speech on demonetisation is ready, but that he is being prevented from giving it in Parliament because the government keeps running away from a debate.
"I am not allowed to speak. If they allow me to speak in the Parliament, there will be an earthquake," Gandhi had said.
He had added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was giving speeches across the country, but had so far refused to address Parliament.
Parliament has been unable to function ever since the start of the winter session, because of the uproar over demonetisation.
The Opposition has been demanding that the Prime Minister address Parliament, and a debate and vote on demonetisation.
But so far, the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement. There are now four days left of the winter session, and so far Parliament has been adjourned virtually every day.
"They are running away from the debate and are merely claiming to be ready for it," Gandhi said.
Mr Modi has on one day attended Parliament, he attended the Rajya Sabha or upper house, but did not address it.