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Government

Pegasus Issue Dominates Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha Proceedings for 10th Day in a Row

As the Centre refuses to relent on either an independent judicial probe or a discussion, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has called a meeting with Opposition MPs and floor leaders tomorrow to finalise a strategy.

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New Delhi: For the 10th day in a row, both the houses of parliament once again witnessed strong protests from Opposition member over the Pegasus spyware issue. After multiple adjournments, both the Houses were finally adjourned till Tuesday in the wake of the protests.

The controversial General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill was passed with a voice-vote while Opposition members continued to demand a judicial probe and a discussion into the snooping charges. After multiple adjournments, both the Houses were finally adjourned till Tuesday.

In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition members were on their feet from the word go when the House convened at 11 am. They raised slogans and demanded an independent probe into the spyware revelations made by 17 news organisations – including The Wire in India – and a discussion on the matter in the House.

However, the Union government appeared in no mood to give in to this 10-day demand. Meanwhile, Speaker Om Birla appealed to the members for calm and urged them to allow the House to function.

The Lok Sabha also took up some questions during the Question Hour despite the Opposition members’ loud protest. The Tourism Minister answered some of oral questions in the din.

Also read: Parliamentary Affairs Minister Says Pegasus ‘Not a Serious Issue’, Opposition Presses for Talks

During the protests, some of the MPs also displayed placards with messages on the Pegasus issue in the Lok Sabha.

Post-noon

Past noon, the House transacted some more business when Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman withdrew some of the Bills and introduced new ones to amend the Cinematograph Act, 1952; the Customs Act, 1962; the Airports Authority of India Act, 1994; the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 and certain other Acts.

Following this, the House adjourned till 2 pm. When it re-assembled, the Opposition continued with the protests, leading to another adjournment till 3 pm.

Thereafter, the House took up The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 for discussion. While protesting against the manner in which the Bill was being moved, Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury charged that “an age old institution is being privatised to benefit crony capitalists”.

Sitharaman said she wanted to answer to the concerns raised by the Congress leader. However, Opposition members continued with protests, in line with the decision taken by senior leaders, including Rahul Gandhi of the Congress, that allowing the Union government to conduct other business in the House would dilute the demand for a discussion and a probe into the Pegasus issue.

Sitharaman sought the passage of the Insurance Bill by putting it up to vote without any proper discussion. It was then passed with a voice vote. Ram Devi, who was in the Chair, adjourned the House till Tuesday.

Also read: Nitish Kumar, Leader of BJP Ally JD(U), Calls for Inquiry Into Pegasus Row

Rajya Sabha

In the Rajya Sabha too, the proceedings were impacted by protests by the Opposition over Pegasus snooping row and other issues. As soon as the House assembled at 11 am, Opposition members began raising their demand for a discussion on the revelations. The House was adjourned till 12 noon.

When it reconvened, Opposition members continued with their loud protests. Some of the MPs also displayed placards accusing the Union government of having a role in the issue. Subsequently, there were multiple adjournments because of the disruptions.

At 2.30 pm when the House re-assembled, Deputy Speaker Harivansh tried to continue with the proceedings despite the sloganeering. Some of the MPs also entered the well of the House to raise the demand for a probe and a discussion.

The Union government moved two Bills for consideration in the House. The Opposition MPs, however continued with their protests. Bhubaneswar Kalita, who was in the Chair, appealed to the MPs to allow the House to function but when they did not relent, it was finally adjourned till Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has invited the leaders of all Opposition MPs and floor leaders for a meeting at Constitution Club on Tuesday to thrash out a common strategy on the Pegasus issue. Earlier, leaders of 14 parties had met in the chambers of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge last week to have a joint strategy for mounting pressure on the Centre on the issue.