For the 11th consecutive day, opposition parties stalled India's Parliament today, even while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the upper house, Rajya Sabha. Members of Parliament have been demanding the resumption of debate on demonetisation.
Changing stance, the opposition demanded an apology from the Prime Minister for his remarks against those opposing demonetisation, and resorted to noisy protest when the demand was rejected.
During the first half of the day, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs expressed their concern over the way the commercial plane carrying West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was kept hovering for a long time while landing at Kolkata airport last night. Banerjee said the aircraft was low on fuel. The government said the incident will be probed.
Starting off the question hour, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said that while the Prime Minister has been addressing his party MPs in Parliament House and even speaking outside, the opposition parties have been demanding his presence during the debate on demonetisation issue.
Modi sat through the question hour on a day which had questions listed against his name. Subsequently, he was present in the post-lunch session at 2 pm as well.
"We had been demanding for last 15 days (presence of PM). ...We are against blackmoney. We want to speak on this issue but with whom? Our anguish is that the Prime Minister is holding weekly meetings with his MPs in Parliament House. He is also speaking outside. Our demand is that the Prime Minister should be here and listen to us," Azad said.
When the senior Congress leader also alleged that the PM had remarked that ppposition parties support blackmoney-holders and said it was a "big allegation", Bharatiya Janata Party members protested the remark.
Law and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu insisted that the House should continue with the debate on demonetisation, which started on November 16, the first day of the winter session.
Ansari also said that the debate has not been concluded and called the listed speaker, A U Singh Deo of Biju Janata Dal to start.
Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) also demanded that the Prime Minister be present in the House through the discussion.
"Why are you assuming that he (PM) will not participate?" Ansari asked Yadav.
As Singh Deo rose to speak on demonetisation, Congress members started raising slogans like "Pradhan Mantri Mafi Maango (PM should apologise)" from the aisles.
The House was adjourned for 15 minutes amid the din.