The ripples of Baba Ramdev’s fight against black money echoed in Parliament on Monday with members of the BJP-led Opposition demanding that the government should set a time frame to bring back the unaccounted money stashed abroad.
The issue was raised in both the Houses of Parliament which ultimately resulted in repeated adjournments of both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. In the Rajya Sabha, the issue was raised during Zero Hour by Venkaiah Naidu (BJP), who demanded a statement from the government on the steps taken on the issue. Naidu also referred to the Parliament march undertaken by Ramdev over the issue at around the same time and said there was concern across the country.
Backed by fellow BJP members, he sought a time frame to bring back the ill-gotten wealth parked abroad. Significantly, NDA members were joined by the AIADMK in flagging the issue vociferously.
P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, sought to defuse the situation, saying a discussion could be held on the issue if a proper notice is given and during that the government could provide a detailed response.
Ministers Ambika Soni, Rajiv Shukla and V Narayanaswamy said the government is ready for a discussion during which it will spell out the steps taken on the issue. They said the government had already brought a White Paper on the issue, which Naidu dismissed as an “empty paper”.
Dissatisfied with the government’s reply, the the BJP and AIADMK members were on their feet shouting slogans, forcing the Chair to adjourn the House, first for 10 minutes and then till 2pm, and finally for the day.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the Lok Sabha soon after the House convened for the day, with the BJP and its allies raising the issue. Demanding that the black money stashed abroad be brought back, BJP members refused to allow proceedings to be run and rushed to the Speaker’s podium. As the pandemonium continued, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House twice.
The issue was later raised in the Lok Sabha by BJP member Harin Pathak during Zero Hour. He lamented that the government was not doing anything to bring the black money back and was trying to suppress those who raised the issue. “Baba Ramdev’s agitation has the support of the entire country. We would like to know what the government is doing about it..,” he asked.
His speech was frequently disrupted by the Congress members. After the LS was adjourned, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated the Opposition charge at a news conference that the government was trying to kill the messenger instead of addressing the issue.