Rajya Sabha proceedings washed out over currency notes issue


New Delhi—The Rajya Sabha proceedings were washed out today as the Opposition created uproar, alleging that different kinds of Rs 500 and Rs 2000 currency notes were being printed which was the “biggest scam of the century”.

The government hit back by accusing the Congress and the Trinamool Congress of raising “frivolous” issues and creating confusion in the country by making such claims.

The House saw continuous slogan-shouting by the members of the Congress and Trinamool Congress, because of which it was adjourned six times before the final adjournment for the day, just minutes after 2.30 pm.

Significantly, JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav sided with the Opposition parties on the issue despite his party now being a constituent of the ruling NDA.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Congress party has been raising “frivolous” issues, without giving notices, to stall Zero Hour proceedings.

Some members including Derek O’Brien (TMC) displayed the new 500 rupee notes issued after demonetisation to show the different sizes they were bring printed.

O’Brien first offered to submit the notes to Jaitley for scrutiny and then walked up to him to explain to him the difference. He, however, did not leave the notes with the finance minister.

Jaitley said there is no provision in the rules that anyone could “flash any paper and say it is point of order.”

“There is a misuse of Zero Hour which is going on,” he said, adding that the Congress first raised the issue of provision for None-Of-The-Above (NOTA) in the ballot for Rajya Sabha poll but then discovered that the provision had been made during their rule.

“You have been raising frivolous issues in the Zero Hour without giving notice” with a view to disrupt and not get replies, he said.

Jaitley, however, did not reply to the Opposition contention on different sized notes.

The issue was raised by Kapil Sibal (Cong) as soon as the House met for the day at 11 am.

He said different sizes of the new high denomination currency was being printed – “one for the ruling party (members) and one for the others”.

Sibal, who raised the issue through a point of order, went on to add, “We have today discovered the reason why the government did demonetisation (of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes in November last year).”

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “this is the biggest scam of this century.”

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi strongly countered the contention of the Congress leaders.

Naqvi said the Congress members were creating confusion as the demonetisation had hit hard the corrupt people.

He said any attempt to protect the corrupt people would not succeed.

Azad said two types of notes are being printed and that “The government has no right to remain in office for even five minutes.”

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said even if there are two types of notes, it cannot be a point of order. “You raise the issue in a different form.”

Joining the Congress members, Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress said, “It is a serious issue.” He then displayed 500 rupee notes that he said were different in size and design.

Prasad asked opposition members to explain where they got the currency notes from.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said no country in the world has two notes of different sizes. “One is bigger, one is smaller,” he said. “I can give signed (copies of the notes).”

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