Wednesday, August 4, 2010


4 Aug 2010


From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: The 75-year old Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday lost his cool twice in the Lok Sabha, first when he threatened to quit as leader of House over a young Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the well shouting at him and second time provoked by CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia's intervention to abruptly conclude his answer to debate on price rise.

Speaker Meira Kumar quickly adjourned the House, second time during the Question Hour, as the TDP and Shiv Sena members rushed to the well and shouted against each other over the disputed Babhali barrage in Maharashtra on the Godavari river.

The TDP's leader Rama Nageshwar Rao regretted "what happened with Pranab Da" when the House re-assembled at noon, though without naming his party colleague Sivaprasad Naramalli who entered into a wordy duel with the minister from the well.

Mukherjee too wanted to respond but the Speaker made him wait as she had already called for the business of laying papers. He, however, started his reply to the price rise debate only after expressing "regrets and apology to the House that I lost cool and temper on a young member."

Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj had rushed to Mukherjee table to request him with folded hands not to be so upset with the errant TDP member before the House was adjourned and later BJP deputy leader Gopinath Munde played the role of a peace-maker, taking the TDP leader to the Speaker's chamber and making him apologise.

The TDP members had entered the well right at the start of the day's proceeding to raise the Babhli issue, the Shiv Sena members following them that led the Speaker adjourn the House till 1130 hrs. In the interval, leaders of both sides agreed that the issue will be closed with Water Resources Minister Pawan Bansal making a statement on the dispute.

The TDP members, however, stormed the House as soon as it re-assembled and this angered Mukherjee to state that the House is being put to ransom as the minister was not being allowed to make a statement after agreeing for it. He asked the TDP members at top of his voice to go back to their seats and allow the House to function.

TDP's Chittoor member Sivaprasad, however, shouted back at Mukherjee who got provoked to retort: "Yes that is the rule. You go back to seat." Sivaprasad again shouted at him, provoking him to threaten to quit as the leader of House when Sushma Swaraj quickly left her seat and rushed to persuade him to cool down.

The way the TDP MPs were crowding around Mukherjee, though actually protesting before the Speaker's dais, the Congress MPs feared he may be assaulted as Jagdambika Pal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Haroon Rashid and M Jagannath could be seen rushing there as soon the House was adjourned till noon.

Mukherjee was provoked second time while replying to the day-long debate on price rise on Tuesday when Acharia tried to intervene to make a query. He did not yield and when the CPI(M) leader insisted on asking the question, he just sat down, saying "I am completing my answer...I will not answer further." He, however, resumed reply after the Speaker brought House to order.

Only two days ago on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had convened a meeting of the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra here over the Babhali barrage row and asked the two riverine states to abide by the Supreme Court's interim order, pointing out that both belong to the Congress and should, therefore, understand the responsibility of not quarrelling. 

TDP leader Nageshwar Rao, who apologised over the ugly scene with Mukherjee, seized the opportunity also to make out Andhra Pradesh case on Babhali to point out how the Maharashtra Government has been violating accords and the Supreme Court orders.

In his response, the Water Resources Minister said the matter is sub judice as the Supreme Court is seized of it and pointed out that the CMs of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra had agreed in a meeting with the PM on Monday to fully implement the Supreme Court's interim orders. He said the meeting also decided that the Central Water Commission (CWC) will continue to check compliance.


No comments: