Govt faces embarrassment in RS; oppn amendment passed

Govt faces embarrassment in RS; oppn amendment passed
Government today faced an embarassment in the Rajya Sabha when an amendment moved by the opposition to the President's Address over corruption and blackmoney was passed.

The amendment was moved by CPI(M) members Sitaram Yechury and P Rajeeve and it was passed through Division of Votes after the government's plea for withdrawal of the step failed.

"There is no mention in the address about the failure of the government to curb high level corruption and to bring back black money," read the amendment.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu tried to dissuade "senior member" Yechury from moving the amendment, saying there was a mention about black money.
He said his concern has been noted and hence should withdraw the amendment.

Yechury said normally he would accept such a request, but he was pressing for the amendment as the government left no choice as even after 14 hours of debate, opposition was denied opportunity to seek clarification on the Prime Minister's reply.

He also took objection to the Prime Minister leaving the House soon after his hour-long reply.

This is the fourth time in Rajya Sabha's history that an amendment moved by the opposition to the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address has been passed.

The previous times such a thing happened was on January 30, 1980, during Janata Party rule, then on December 29, 1989, during V P Singh-led National Front and third time on March 12, 2001 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government was in power.

The amendment was passed with 118 votes in favour and 57 against it, reminding that the government is in acute minority in Rajya Sabha.

The development highlighted the difficult task that the government is bound to face in its endeavour to get key economic reforms bills passed.

Earlier, Naidu tried his best to persuade Yechury to not move the amandment by saying the government is trying to bring back black money and there is no difference of opionion on this point.

"You have a right. Your concerns are understood....But do not press for division," Naidu urged Yechury.

The CPI(M) leader however was in no mood to accede to the request. He said in normal course he would have consented but in the present situation, the opposition had not been allowed to make interjections as they do sometimes when they disagree or even to seek clarifications.

"Even the Leader of Opposition was not allowed....This is is violation of all norms and procedures and parliamentary democracy in this House," he said.

Amid the din, congress member Ramchandra Rao displayed a banner to which Ansari said if he failed to put it down he will be compelled to ask him to leave the House. The member later agreed and took his seat.

Naidu again sought to dissuade Yechury from moving ahead with the division of votes over the amendment saying that it was not the "precedence" and added that clarifications are sought when a statement is made.

He said in this case, every party had spoken and "never before any clarification was given."

There was much uproar and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too reiterated that as far as clarifications are concerned, it is never allowed to which Yechury retorted "I know my rights as a member, my right is inalienable".

Ansari then said the "member (Yechury) has the right to press it. He said the Parliamentary Affairs minister had mentioned convention and propriety.

He said if Yechury wanted to insist on pushing ahead with the amendment, the Chair cannot deny.

"We were left with no other option as despite 14 hours debate we didn't get answer to the main issue," Yechury said admant on divsion on vote on the amendment.

Naidu and Prasad were seen making attempts to convince the opposition members including Azad from taking such a step.

As the amendment was moved, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) mentioned that he too had moved an amendment similar to the one moved by Yechury. He later, withdrew it saying, "already an identical amendment has been passed so I am withdrawing it."
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