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Wanted, an agenda

New Delhi, Aug. 4: An irate Congress today walked out from the Lok Sabha, accusing the government of running the House arbitrarily without taking the Opposition into confidence.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge charged the government with not holding meetings of the business advisory committee of the Lok Sabha and keeping the Opposition in the dark about the government’s business to be taken up in the House.

The Opposition has been peeved with the government as the committee’s meeting was not held last week. The government holds a meeting of the committee every weekend to finalise the agenda for the following week. Opposition members are also part of the committee.

The grouse cropped up today when the Speaker allowed a discussion on encephalitis following a demand from members of the treasury benches.

Kharge immediately rose to point out how a discussion on floods and drought was going on for the past four days. While the debate on the natural calamities was still inconclusive, the House has taken up another issue, he said.

“Why is the government not informing the House what business it wants to take up, which debate it wants to take up and what bills it wants to pass or introduce?” Kharge asked. He alleged that the “government did not have any business”.

The Speaker objected to this comment and said that the discussions on flood and drought and encephalitis were being taken up on the demand of members. The entire Congress contingent walked out.

The government hardly has any business left for the Lok Sabha after the passage of the railway and general budgets.

Initially, there was some talk of cutting short the session but the government changed plans as it wanted to push through the insurance bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu denied the Opposition charge and asked: “Are discussions on important issues not the business of the House? What is Parliament meant for if not to discuss important issues?”

Asked about the business advisory committee meeting, Naidu said it was not a very big issue and it would be held in a day or two.