More than 25,000 people including top industrialists launched a signature campaign urging members of Parliament to allow the House to function, debate and legislate. The petition was called “Parliament to function urged all political parties to have a collaborative and consultative process in Parliament”.
It has been launched on the website Change.org. The campaign was launched by industry body CII on Saturday.
“Recent events have been disheartening. They have the potential of eroding popular faith in Parliament. Perpetual disruption can never be the rule. Street demonstrations against the Chair of the Lower House are of unprecedented scale. The Lower house is without some opposition members. The upper house is perpetually adjourned,” the petition said.
“The importance of uninterrupted legislative function of the Parliament can hardly be over emphasised. Important laws like the constitution amendments in Goods and Services Tax which improves India’s growth rate is held up. GST has taken a long time in coming and has taken years of consensus building, and CII has time and again reiterated that this could significantly contribute to India’s growth,” it said.
The petition was signed, among others, by Sumit Mazumder, President, CII, Ajay S Shriram, Chairman & Senior Managing Director of DCM Shriram Ltd, Kris Gopalakrishnan, Co-Founder of Infosys Ltd, Adi Godrej, Chairman of Godrej Group, Godrej Industries Ltd, Rajesh Shah, Co-Chairman & Managing Director of Mukand Ltd, Sunil Kant Munjal, Hero Corporate Services Limited, Rahul Bajaj, Chairman of Bajaj Auto Limited.
Govt, Oppn lock horns
The petition added more fuel to the chaos as Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha termed it an interference by industrialists from outside. The Opposition said the ‘interference’ was supported by the government and when the latter retaliated accusing the former of stalling democracy, the scenario turned worse.
Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav had first raised the issue during the Zero Hour. He said the charge that moneybags have brought the NDA government to power has been vindicated by the 15,000-signature strong petition signed by many top industrialists. Yadav said the “capitalists” wanted to run the Parliament, which has been elected by 125 crore Indians. CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury also expressed similar thoughts. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of using the media and businessman against the Congress. He also alleged that industrialists and electronic channels were being threatened.
Jaitley hits back
Union Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley replied to the allegations, asking whether the common man of the country doesn’t want the Parliament to function? “Do the people who voted for you not want Parliament to function? You are guilty of stalling democracy,” he said.
At this, the Congress members rushed to the Well and shouted slogans, forcing the House’s adjournment.
When it reassembled at 12 noon, Azad raked up the issue. Taking a cue from Yadav, he said a campaign was going against the MPs which lowers the House’s prestige.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it is the behaviour of the Opposition which has harmed the House’s reputation. Yechury, who said the businessmen couldn’t interfere in the Parliament’s functioning, raised the Lalitgate issue later and the Congress members started protesting in the Well again, forcing the adjournment of the House for the second time.