New Delhi: Parliament was paralysed today over demonetisation, with Rajya Sabha witnessing a sharp clash over certain remarks by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, leaving a debate on the issue incomplete in the House which had a lively discussion yesterday.
Opposition parties, led by Congress, created uproar in both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha as soon as the Houses met for the day and it continued throughout.
The Lok Sabha could carry out business only during the Question Hour, that too amid the uproar, after which it was adjourned for the day minutes past 12 PM. The Rajya Sabha could not transact any business.
In the Upper House, which witnessed about six-hour-long debate on demonetisation yesterday, Congress and some other opposition parties pressed, from the word go, for the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House and a response from him over the hardships caused to people by the November 8 decision to make Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes invalid.
AIADMK members, meanwhile, trooped into the Well and created uproar demanding that Karnataka release Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu.
The uproar forced repeated adjournments of the House, whose proceedings for the day were ended minutes past 3 PM following a major clash between opposition and ruling members after Congress leader Azad compared Uri terror attack casualties to the number of deaths which occurred due to demonetisation "crisis".
Taking strong objection to this, the ruling side termed the comments as "anti-national" and demanded an apology from Congress besides seeking deletion of the remarks from the official records of the Upper House.
Azad, while demanding presence of the Prime Minister and asserting that the House will not be allowed to function till he comes there, said 40 people had died following government's decision on demonetisation.
"People are suffering because of demonetisation. The death toll has reached 40. In the attack by Pakistani terrorists (on army camp) in Uri (in Kashmir), even half of the deaths did not take place. People double than that figure have died due to wrong policy of the government," he said. In the Uri attack, 18 army personnel had been killed.
In an apparent reference to the cross-LoC surgical strikes carried out by India in PoK after the Uri attack, Azad said, "There should be air strike on BJP....Your wrong policies are responsible for their murders."
He said since the Prime Minister had made the demonetisation announcement, he should come to the House. Accusing Modi of imposing his "will" and "dictatorship" on the people, the Congress leader said due to his decision, "millions of people are not able to even have their meals."
Charging that "BJP and this government is responsible for these deaths," he asked, "Who should be punished" for this? This comment by Azad drew massive protests from BJP members with Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu saying the remarks are "anti-national".
An angry Naidu said Pakistan would use these comments against India and that Congress should apologise for it. "The LoP, by taking name of Pakistan, has given a certificate to Pakistan. This is shameful. Countrymen are angry... The comment is atrocious, objectionable and anti-national," he said as BJP members created uproar.
"Pakistan will use this statement. I request the Chair, please get it deleted. Pakistani terrorists have taken lives of thousands of people in this country. Entire (Congress) party should apologise to the House," the minister said.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien then asked Azad whether he would like to respond. To this, the LoP said he was only speaking about the figures of casualties due to demonetisation.
"We face Pakistani firing 24 hours... You attend their weddings," Azad said in an apparent reference to Modi attending the marriage ceremony of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's kin during his sudden visit to Lahore on December 25 last year.
"We are always stand with the soldiers. We suffer Pakistani firing 24 hours. You have not been bitten even by a mouse. Pakistani firing has been killing us. BJP has not been bitten even by a Pakistani mouse," said the Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir.
This was followed by pandemonium. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar tried to make a statement, but could not be heard amid the din.
Kurien tried to continue the debate on demonetisation, but as his repeated attempts failed, he adjourned the House for the day, minutes past 3 PM....