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Opposition stages walkout in Lok Sabha over black money issue

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New Delhi: A united Opposition attempted to corner the BJP-led NDA government on the second day of Parliament’s Winter Session on Tuesday on key issues including the repatriation of black money, amendments in the bill related to appointment of CBI chief and FDI in the insurance sector.
As soon as the House met for the day, members from Trinamool Congress rushed to the Well holding black umbrellas with slogans like ‘bring back black money’ painted on them.

They were soon joined by members from Congress, RJD, AAP and Samajwadi Party who also raised slogans demanding a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi as to when the black money will be brought back.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan warned the members against displaying umbrellas and said they should desist from using such tactics to show their protest.

Leader of Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge earlier pointed out that his party has given a notice for suspension of Question Hour. But Speaker said it was against the rules though she was willing to accommodate a debate on black money under other rules.

SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was sitting next to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, tried to speak on the issue but could not be heard amid din.

Amid uproar, the House took up two questions during Question Hour but the reply was not audible in the din. The Speaker then adjourned the House for 40 minutes till noon and then till 2 pm. The Opposition MPs staged a walkout as soon as the house assembled for normal business.

As per reports, Congress, RJD, TMC, SP and NCP MPs staged a walkout in Lok Sabha insisting discussion on black money issue today itself. The govt today said that it is ready for a debate on any issue provided the House is allowed to function smoothly.

The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress, JD(U) and Samajwadi Party earlier gave notices for discussion on black money and demanded the suspension of Question Hour.

Senior SP leader Naresh Agarwal had earlier threatened that no other proceedings will be allowed in both Houses of Parliament today.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who is already on the warpath against the BJP, had declared that she would “politically retaliate” against her party being dragged into the Saradha scam.

The West Bengal CM had on Sunday warned that her Parliamentarians would take on the government over the repatriation of black money. On Monday, Trinamool’s parliamentary party chief Sudip Bandopadhyay said, “If we don’t get satisfactory answers we will not allow Parliament to function”.

The JD(U), which had warned that this session “will witness a lot of hungama (chaos)” after the all-party meet on Sunday, was also vocal on the issue.

“Black money was one of the key poll planks in the Lok Sabha elections on which the BJP won, but the government has done nothing on this count since it came to power. We want a threadbare discussion on this,” said JD(U) leader KC Tyagi, who gave the notice for discussion to Rajya Sabha on his party’s behalf.

The Congress, which had faced BJP fire on the issue in the run-up to the election, has repeatedly challenged the government on the issue.

The last time he spoke of the matter – in his radio address “Mann ki baat” earlier this month – Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to bring back “every penny of the poor man’s money” stashed abroad and said it was “an article of faith” for him.

But the government claims to have run up against a maze of clauses in international agreements that make it tough to “retrieve black money”. The Prime Minister’s Office has now asked the revenue department to look for ways other than bilateral tax treaties to bring back funds stashed abroad.

The Narendra Modi government is aiming to introduce and take up 37 bills this session. However, it is likely to face stiff opposition over the Insurance Bill. After Trinamool Congress, BJP’s old ally Shiv Sena has also joined the ranks of parties opposing the bill.

According to the bill, the foreign direct investment in insurance sector would be hiked from 26 per cent to 49 per cent. The Congress said it will not assure the government of its support and the Centre may give more time to select committee on insurance.

The opposition has also red flagged proposed changes to the MNREGA and Goods and Services Tax Bill.

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