Indian Parliament Ends 2 Days Early as Protests Halt LegislationAndrew MacAskill
India’s parliament ended its budget session two days before schedule as clashes between opposition parties and the government stalled legislation including a bill meant to expand a program to feed the poor.
While the current sitting was due to finish on May 10, the lower house of parliament will be sent into recess from today, Meira Kumar, the speaker said after opposition lawmakers stormed the well of the house in another day of protests and halted debate. The upper house of parliament also ended proceedings today.
The government will now be unable to pass a bill that it hopes will help deliver a third term in power in elections that must be held within the next year. The bill, if enacted, will grant the nation’s poor the right to buy food grains at subsidized rates as the ruling Congress party aims to meet a pledge to spread the benefits of faster economic growth.
The Bharatiya Janata Party and other groups are demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Law Minister Ashwani Kumar over alleged interference in a probe into the allocation of coal blocks.
The protests were prompted by findings by India’s top court that the country’s main anti-corruption agency allowed the government to vet its findings of a probe into alleged corruption. Singh was in charge of the coal ministry at the time when many of the mining permits were awarded. The Supreme Court in New Delhi will hold a hearing on the case today.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is probing allegations of graft in the award of mining rights, told the Supreme Court last month the status of the investigation was shared with the federal law minister and two officials of the prime minister’s office and coal ministry.