There will finally be a debate on price rise in the Lok Sabha on Monday, sources have told NDTV. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman — back in action after a bout of Covid — will reply. This comes after the first two weeks of the Monsoon Session saw utter chaos in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition kept demanding a debate on inflation by suspending all other business.
India's annual retail inflation in June climbed to 7.01% in June from 6.26% a year earlier, as per government data released earlier this month. This was above the central bank's tolerance band of 2%-6% for the sixth month in a row. There have also been protests over the levy of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on essential items that were earlier out of its ambit.
In Parliament, the Opposition said these issues should be top priority, and all else be kept aside. The government repeatedly claimed it's ready to debate "all issues", but cited Ms Sitharaman's absence to justify why it couldn't take up price-rise immediately.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla cited the rulebook. He said he'll give time for issues beyond the listed business only in the Zero Hour, which is earmarked for raising anything related to "urgent public importance" after giving notice.
When Congress and other Opposition MPs raised slogans and brought placards into the House — accusing the government of skirting "real issues" — the chaos further angered Speaker Om Birla. A number of MPs from Opposition parties have already been suspended for alleged disorderly conduct.
The Speaker was particularly upset when Opposition MPs gathered in the Well of the House with packets of curd, butter and buttermilk, questioning GST on such basic food items.