The Telegraph
Thursday , September 5 , 2013
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Fed up, Meira makes a point

Meira Kumar in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Sept. 4: A defiant Meira Kumar today refused to adjourn the Lok Sabha despite continuous sloganeering by BJP members but had to give in finally as the din over untraced coal files persisted.

The Speaker, however, did not return to take the Chair when the House resumed after lunch to pass the crucial pension bill.

Earlier in the day, Kumar had challenged the main Opposition to “do what you like” but refused to adjourn the House. “You can do what you like. If you want to get angry with the Chair, you get angry. If you want to insult the Chair, you can insult the Chair. I will remain seated,” she said as BJP members tried to get her to adjourn the Lok Sabha in the pre-lunch session over the coal files.

The files, which the CBI has sought, relate to coal block allocations the agency is probing.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had yesterday told Parliament the government was trying to trace the files but had failed to satisfy the Opposition.

Kumar was finally compelled to halt proceedings after BJP leader Yashwant Sinha intervened, saying the House could not be allowed to run amid such unruly scenes.

“Madam, I am sorry, but this is no way to run the House,” Sinha said as other Opposition parties supported him.

The Speaker then adjourned the House till 2pm.

But Kumar did not return to take the Chair when the House reconvened, even when the pension bill was taken up. The bill, which was passed, needed to be voted on more than once.

Biju Janata Dal MP Arjun Charan Sethi, who presided over the House when the bill was passed, struggled with rules as the Opposition members demanded voting on amendments.

Kumar’s absence raised eyebrows, with many asking if she was still furious. It is not mandatory for the Speaker to preside over the House when important bills are taken up but Kumar was in the Chair when the Lok Sabha passed the food security and land acquisition bills last week.

“The Speaker’s absence was unusual but there was no case of Meira Kumar being angry,” a source in the Speaker’s office said.

The source said the Speaker kept away as there was wide support for the pension bill, with the BJP backing the reform legislation.

Kumar has adjourned the House whenever members have resorted to protests during this session and had twice suspended Telugu Desam Party MPs who tried to disrupt proceedings.

But today, she allowed a discussion on the pension bill despite uproar over issues like the coal files, the fuel price hike and sharing of Cauvery waters.

BJP members were in the well of the House for more than 10 minutes and tried to raise slogans against the Prime Minister. But Kumar refused to yield before Sinha intervened.