New Delhi, March 4: The Left and the Trinamul Congress today competed with each other to stall Parliament over the petrol price hike with the BJP lending background support, causing both Houses to be adjourned without transacting any significant business.
The disruptions washed out question hour, robbing the Lok Sabha of a chance to grill the government on the helicopter deal or FDI in retail. The first question for the day related to the AgustaWestland chopper deal and the related kickback charges, and the second to retail FDI.
Left MPs were on their feet as soon as the Houses assembled in the morning. Keen to prevent their political rivals from hogging all the credit, Trinamul members rushed to the well in both Houses to demand a petrol price rollback.
In the Lok Sabha, Trinamul appeared to be losing out to the Left whose members demanded suspension of question hour to discuss the “unprecedented” petrol price rise. They stormed the well when the Speaker rejected the demand.
Just three Trinamul MPs were present in the Lok Sabha in the morning. One of them, Kalyan Banerjee, seemed to sense the importance of the issue for his party boss and moved to the well, motioning the remaining two to join him.
Trinamul members positioned themselves opposite the Left in the well and shouted slogans. The Speaker adjourned the House till noon.
In the Rajya Sabha, Trinamul seemed to have scored over the Left. Immediately after the House assembled, MP Derek ’Brien stood up and asked: “There has been a petrol price hike in the middle of a Parliament session. Prices have been hiked just a day after the budget. How can they increase prices without informing Parliament? What is the sanctity of Parliament, then?”
The Chairman refused to entertain his objections, saying it was not a question hour issue.
Left and BJP members too pitched in. Amid the din, the government tried to point out that petrol prices had been deregulated and offered a discussion, but the protesters declined it and insisted on a rollback.
The House was first adjourned for 10 minutes and then till noon. Similar uproar was witnessed at noon, leading to an adjournment till 2pm and thereafter, for the day.
When the Lok Sabha reassembled at noon, Left and Trinamul members rushed to a spot near the Speaker’s podium and began shouting: “Roll back, roll back, roll back petrol prices.”
This time, there were more Trinamul members but they still failed to match the Left’s numbers. Samajwadi Party members joined the Left.
No BJP member stepped out to the well but party MPs stood at their places and shouted slogans against the hike.
Just before the House reassembled at noon, Left leaders Basudeb Acharia and Gurudas Dasgupta had been seen walking up to the BJP benches and talking to the members, possibly to secure their support.