Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday addressed the Lok Sabha, providing details of contracts given to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. She accused the Opposition of misquoting her, a day after the Congress claimed that she had “lied” in Parliament when she claimed that the government had given orders worth Rs 1 lakh crore to the state-owned company.
The Opposition had also moved a privilege motion against the minister for allegedly misleading the House on the matter.
“I would like to set all doubts to rest,” she said. “The doubts raised in this regard are incorrect and misleading. I have received confirmation from HAL that contracts during 2014-’18 worth Rs 26,570.8 crore have already been signed with HAL. Orders worth Rs 73,000 crore approximately are in the pipeline.”
The House proceedings were disrupted repeatedly. After the Lok Sabha convened at 12 pm following an adjournment, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan suspended three parliamentarians from the All India Anna Munnetra Dravida Kazhagam and a legislator from the Telugu Desam Party for disrupting proceedings and protesting at the Well of the House despite being asked not to, PTI reported. On January 2, she had suspended 24 AIADMK members for repeatedly entering the Well to protest against the construction of a dam over the Cauvery river.
House proceedings were adjourned again till 12.30 pm, and then till 2.30 pm as the Samajwadi Party continued to protest against a Central Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Akhilesh Yadav in connection with illegal mining and the Congress kept up its demands for an investigation into the Rafale deal, NDTV reported.
The Winter Session is scheduled to end on Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge moved a notice under rule 193 in the Lok Sabha, demanding a joint parliamentary committee to probe the Rafale jet deal with France, ANI reported. The party has been vociferously protesting in both Houses of the Parliament on the matter, and last week Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi participated in a debate in the Lower House.
Congress MP KC Venugopal also gave a notice to move a privilege motion against Sitharaman for allegedly misleading the House on the matter. According to a report in The Times Of India, the company was still waiting for the formalisation of orders that Sitharaman had mentioned during her Rafale debate.
Gandhi on Sunday had asked the defence minister to prove in Parliament that the government had given HAL orders worth Rs 1 lakh crore or resign. Sitharaman had responded to his allegations by saying that Gandhi was “spreading lies” and “misleading the public”.
Both the Congress and the BJP have issued their MPs a three-line whip to be present in the Lok Sabha, Firstpost reported.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day following repeated protests by the Opposition on a number of matters, including the CBI investigation into Akhilesh Yadav, PTI reported.
Several Bharatiya Janata Party MPs protested outside the Parliament against the Kerala government over its handling of the Sabarimala row. They were protesting against attacks on party leaders, including an incident when a bomb was hurled at former BJP president V Muralidharan’s ancestral home in Kannur.
Bills in the pipeline
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance on Monday was expected to table the contentious Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, in the Rajya Sabha, the Hindustan Times reported. The Opposition wants the bill in its current form to be examined by a parliamentary select committee.
The other bills that were expected to introduced in the Upper House include the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill 2019, the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018.
The other legislation that may come up in the Lower House include the National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, the Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Dissent notes moved by the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Samajwadi Party on a Joint Parliamentary Committee report on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill are also expected to come up in the Lower House.