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Samajwadi Lokpal wall

New Delhi, Dec. 13: The government today tabled the Lokpal bill amid uproar and three adjournments in the Rajya Sabha but could not get it passed as the Samajwadi Party pressed for a debate on price rise instead.

One Samajwadi MP, Naresh Agarwal, said the House should debate “price rise which is the root cause of corruption” the bill seeks to tackle.

The BJP, the principal Opposition party, disagreed with portions of the draft tabled by the government but was still ready to pass the bill.

Agarwal started raising the issue of price rise soon after the proceedings began around 11am. His party colleagues trooped into the well along with two Telugu Desam MPs shouting “save Andhra” slogans. Within minutes, an adjournment followed.

When the House reconvened at noon, minister of state in PMO V. Narayanasamy tabled the bill but Agarwal was back on his feet. “Before discussing corruption (which the bill seeks to tackle), we should discuss price rise which is the root cause of corruption,” Agarwal said even as the minister was reading out the bill. As the din continued, the House was adjourned again.

Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath tried to persuade Agarwal and his Samajwadi colleague Ramgopal Yadav during the break, but failed.

The House reconvened around 3.30pm but deputy chairman, the Congress’s P.J. Kurien, adjourned the proceedings for the third and final time as the protests continued.

Agarwal claimed later his party had given prior intimation seeking a debate on price rise.

But the BJP-led Opposition was up in arms. “We were ready to debate price rise but the Lokpal bill was tabled and should have been discussed. At a time the Opposition is saying we are ready to pass the bill even in the din, the government is not sincere,” said the BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, deputy leader of Opposition in the House.

The CPM’s P. Rajeev insinuated collusion between the Congress and the Samajwadis, saying both were against the Lokpal bill.

K.C. Tyagi of the JD(U) said the government’s efforts to bring order seemed “half-hearted”. “The entire Opposition, except the Samajwadi Party, wanted to pass the bill. Still, it did not go through. If the government wanted, it could have ordered the marshals to lead the Samajwadi leaders out.”

Tyagi recalled a 2009 incident when Samajwadi leaders had been led out after they were the lone protesters to the women’s reservation bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011, was introduced and passed by the Lok Sabha that year. The Rajya Sabha took up the bill in May 2012 but it was referred to a 15-member select committee.

The committee included leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley and Samajwadi MP Ramgopal Yadav — who was part of today’s protest.