The Congress on Wednesday dubbed the government as "unparliamentary" and alleged the functioning of Parliament is being affected because of its obstinacy to not allow the Opposition's demand for a discussion on hike in GST on food items.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government is not allowing the discussion on GST hike on essential food items under Rule 267 after suspending all other business, and accused it of running away from a debate.
"The most 'unparliamentary' government in India's history isn't allowing a discussion on common man's issues of price rise and GST on essential food items. Modiji, why are you running away from answering for your failures," Kharge asked.
Congress general secretary and chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said the Opposition has been demanding an urgent discussion on inflation and hike in GST rates but is being denied.
"This morning in the Rajya Sabha the Opposition led by the Congress demanded an URGENT debate on price rise and senseless GST rates on food items. This was denied. The House was adjourned till 2 pm. Modi Sarkar's obstinacy continues. Business in Parliament is suffering," Ramesh said on Twitter.
"This afternoon too Modi Sarkar refused an urgent debate on price rise and shocking increase in GST rates on essential food items. The Rajya Sabha got adjourned for the day. If only the PM shows some sensitivity to address people’s issues in Parliament…," Ramesh said in another tweet.
The proceedings stalled after the Opposition members protested inside the well of the House and raised slogans against the government.
The Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha have failed to transact any significant business so far since the Monsoon Session began on July 18.
Kharge said he had given notice under Rule 267 on increase in GST on essential commodities, which will hurt the common people, especially the poor and marginalised.
He said some items on which there was no GST now have 5 per cent GST and those with 5 per cent GST now are under 12 per cent or 18 per cent tax and these include lassi, paneer, milk, atta, hospital beds, bread, bank cheques and LEDs.
"This is a very big issue and that is why we want a discussion on all this under Rule 267," he said, adding that it says any member may, with consent of the chairman, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a motion released to the business listed before the Council of that day.
If the motion is carried then the rule in question shall be suspended for the time being, provided further that this rule shall not apply to a specific provision that already exists. this is a specific rule, he said, adding that it is different that holding a discussion under Rule 176.
"We want that all business of the house, be it zero hour, or any other bill, be kept aside and other rules be suspended and this issue be discussed under rule 267. The entre country is seeing how all members of all parties are raising our issues in Parliament. We are doing so but the chairman says he is giving permission. That is why we are raising it again. We want immediate discussion that is why we are using this rule," Kharge said.
He said today is the third day that we are raising this demand for a discussion under Rule 267 to discuss the hike in GST rates on essential commodities. "We have not made this rule. We are demanding a discussion under this rule."
"When you do not hear the grievances of people in rural areas, then only you can understand all this. Piyush Goyal should talk to people. They ask us why these issues are not being raised," he added.
Countering the opposition charge, Union minister Piyush Goyal said the government is not running away from debate on price rise and GST and the issues can be taken up in Parliament once Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers from COVID-19. He also accused the Congress for disrupting proceedings in the House.
"Congress has a destructive attitude towards democracy. It was exposed from Jairam Ramesh's tweet that Congress was successful in not allowing the House to function," Goyal, who is the Leader of House in Rajya Sabha, told reporters.
He alleged there was a competition among opposition parties on who would disrupt Parliament most.
(With PTI inputs)