Parliament logjam: Plan to move contempt notice against PM Modi, says Sitaram Yechury

Yechury criticised the Prime Minister and his "arrogance of not wanting to face Parliament".

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Alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "deliberate attempt" of abstaining from either of the Houses despite his presence in the Parliament Complex amounts to an "utter contempt" of Parliament, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday said they are examining a possibility of moving a contempt notice against him for refusing to be answerable to Parliament.

Noting that when Parliament is in session, the Prime Minister everyday goes on speaking outside, but not inside Parliament, he said this amounts to contempt of Parliament.
"If the Prime Minister refuses to be answerable to Parliament; if he can give public speeches everyday but does not come to Parliament to speak; he is in the Parliament Complex, but doesn't come to either of the Houses. This is an utter contempt of Parliament and we are examining a possibility of moving a contempt notice against the Prime Minister for refusing to be answerable to Parliament," said CPI general secretary holding a press conference.

"Our point is, the discussion that began in the Rajya Sabha was a discussion on the announcement made by the Prime Minister on the withdrawal (demonetization) of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes. So, when there is a discussion on the announcement made by the Prime Minister, he should be available to hear the discussion and respond, and that he is not doing," he said.

"If the House is not functioning, singularly the blame is on the Prime Minister and his arrogance of not wanting to face Parliament," said Yechury, adding that if the Prime Minister refuses to be answerable to Parliament, then there is actually complete constitutional breakdown and that is what is happening.

"In our constitutional scheme of things, people are supreme in terms of sovereignty and that sovereignty is exercised by making the government accountable to Parliament and the parliamentarians being accountable to the people and that is how 'we the people' is exercised. Secondly, it is a normal practice in the parliamentary democracy and a practice that we have followed in India all along. If the Prime Minister makes an announcement outside Parliament, before Parliament meets, it is incumbent on the Prime Minister that on the opening day of Parliament to come to both Houses and explain the decision, but it is not done," said Yechury.

"We are consulting all the opposition parties on it (moving a contempt notice). We want to do it unitedly and jointly with the opposition parties. But we consider that this merits absolute considerations," he said.

"And secondly, we are also examining that after the President of India summons Parliament, can the Prime Minister or executive make a policy announcement outside Parliament? According to us, they should not. But that is happening," he added.

Proceedings in both Houses were disrupted for the fourth day today on the demonetization issue, with both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha being adjourned for the day.
Opposition and treasury bench members traded charges on demonetization. As soon as the Lok Sabha met for the day, leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge demanded suspension of the question hour to take up discussion on demonetization, which was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

Opposition members, including Congress, TMC, NCP and SP trooped into the well of the House shouting slogans. Amid the din, the Speaker tried to conduct the Question Hour.
Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar said the government is ready for holding discussion and pleaded with the Opposition members to go back to their seats.
The Rajya Sabha witnessed noisy scenes with the Opposition demanding Prime Minister Modi's presence in the House and payment of compensation to those who reportedly died of trauma, while queuing up before banks and ATMs following demonetization of high value currency notes.

The House witnessed four adjournments in the pre-lunch session. Members of the Congress Party repeatedly trooped into the well, displaying placards. Chairman Mohd Hamid Ansari adjourned the House for the day as the pandemonium continued.

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