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Opposition leaders protest in Lok Sabha over disinvestment of PSUs and electoral bond

Opposition leaders protest in Lok Sabha over disinvestment of PSUs and electoral bond
Highlights

The Opposition Congress on Thursday protested in Lok Sabha against privatisation of a few PSUs, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL),...

New Delhi: The Opposition Congress on Thursday protested in Lok Sabha against privatisation of a few PSUs, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), and issuance of electoral bonds, terming the move as "big scams".

Raising the matter of electoral bonds during Zero Hour, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the scheme has made corruption 'official'.

He further said despite reservations expressed by the Reserve Bank of India and the Election Commission, the government went ahead with the scheme.

Ahead of the expected debate on the electoral bonds, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said: "When electoral bonds were introduced, many of us had raised serious objections about how it could easily become a way for rich corporations and individuals to influence improperly political parties, particularly the ruling party."

However, Congress members returned to their seats after the protests and sloganeering in the Well of the House for about 15 minutes when Speaker Om Birla assured them that they will be allowed to raise issues during Zero Hour.

"This is a big scam. The country is being looted. Please allow us to speak," Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

However, Speaker Birla told members that the MPs should not lower the dignity of the House by coming into the Well.

"This is wrong. The House is discussing a very important issue on sportspersons. No, no. Don't talk to the chair from the Well. It is the responsibility of every member to maintain decorum and dignity of the House," he said.

The Speaker said the Question Hour is very important and the MPs should not disrupt proceedings.

"I am a new member. You are senior. Don't come to the Well. Maintain the convention," Birla said, adding he has not admitted the adjournment motion moved by the Congress but is ready to allow the party to speak during Zero Hour.

With this the Congress MPs went to their seats.

At this, Chowdhury said the opposition keep cooperating in smooth functioning of the House and the Speaker too reciprocate with them.

"You are not new. You are the chair of the House. We are forced to give the adjournment motions to raise very important issues, not to disrespect the chair. We have given the notice because this is a big scam. The country is being looted," he said.

At this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is running the cleanest government and there is no scope of corruption in its functioning.

"You come everyday with an adjournment motion bringing some issues. This is not done," Joshi said.

Chowdhury countered Joshi by saying the BJP, while in opposition, disrupted proceedings of the House days together by raising issues like alleged coal scam or 2G scam.

Joshi said at that time the issues were raised in the House as the two cases were either before the Supreme Court or the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

However, opposition members calmed down after the Speaker's assurance.

"You (Joshi) may be tough but the Speaker is soft," Chowdhury said.

The government on Wednesday kicked off a disinvestment plan, lining up the sale of five public sector units (PSUs), including majority stakes in bluechip oil company BPCL and Shipping Corporation of India.

Also on sale will be a 31 per cent stake in Container Corporation of India (Concor) along with management control.

Under the electoral bonds scheme, the government had offered complete anonymity to those making donations.

A donor can now anonymously buy a bond and deposit it with the political party of his choice.

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