2G Spectrum allocation disrupts parliament (Afternoon Lead)By IANS
Thursday, May 6, 2010
NEW DELHI - The alleged wrongdoings in the allocation of 2G Spectrum resurfaced in parliament Thursday forcing the adjournment of both houses as angry AIADMK members demanded a parliamentary probe on the issue and protested against Communications Minister A. Raja’s lobbying for a cabinet berth.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned towards the fag end of the pre-lunch session while the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for 10 minutes soon after it assembled for the day.
The trouble erupted in the Lok Sabha during zero hour when Speaker Meira Kumar invited M. Thambidurai, the AIADMK floor leader, to raise the 2G issue.
Alleging that the exchequer had lost Rs.1 lakh crore on the spectrum allocation, Thambidurai asked: “Where has the money gone?”
He also referred to a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that allegedly referred to Raja’s involvement.
He asked the government to keep Raja away from the ministry till the investigation was completed. “We need a JPC (joint parliamentary committee) on the issue,” he added.
Thambidurai’s speech was interrupted frequently by the DMK’s T.R. Baalu, who asked the chair not to let allegations be raised against the minister.
As the protests by the AIADMK members continued, the speaker adjourned the house till 2 p.m. with less than a minute to go for the scheduled lunch recess.
In the Rajya Sabha, a media report suggesting that Raja had lobbied with a power broker for a cabinet berth rocked the house, forcing a brief adjournment and prompting Chairman Hamid Ansari to deprecate the “disgraceful” behaviour of AIADMK members who raised the issue.
AIADMK members led by V. Maitreyan and K. Malaisami raised the issue as soon as the house assembled, evoking a sharp response from Ansari for their brandishing a tabloid and a CD.
“Please don’t show newspapers. This is not done. Please go back to your seats,” Ansari said. But the AIADMK members continued to stand just short of the speaker’s podium and shout slogans demanding an explanation from the government.
“Please don’t do this. There shall be no slogan shouting,” Ansari said. But with his appeal falling on deaf ears, he adjourned the house at 11.02 a.m. — for 10 minutes.
As Ansari left the chamber, Maitreyan, accompanied by S.S. Ahluwalia (Bharatiya Janata Party), D. Raja (Communist Party of India), Brajesh Pathak (Bahujan Samaj Party) and others went up to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to apparently explain the reasons for their protest.
The ruckus continued when the house reassembled, prompting Ansari to remark: “Extraneous matters will not be permitted. This is irresponsible behaviour. You are shouting in vain. You are making a spectacle of yourselves.”
Ansari even threatened to name the protesting MPs under rule 255 that would render them liable for disciplinary action.
The AIADMK members then abruptly turned around and walked out of the house.
“This is disgraceful,” an exasperated Ansari said, as he called the first question of the day.
A tabloid Thursday reported that Raja “may have lobbied with an influential power broker” to secure his cabinet post in the Congress-led government. The tabloid said the report was based on recorded telephonic conversations between Raja and the corporate lobbyist.
Raja has been in the eye of a storm over the alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam ever since the budget session of parliament resumed April 15, the issue forcing repeated adjournments of both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha.
Raja, while not directly addressing the charges, has attempted to deflect the issue by pointing to the “transparent” manner in which the ongoing auction for 3G spectrum is being conducted.