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Day 8 of no work in parliament

In a familiar routine, both houses of parliament were adjourned for the eighth day Thursday without any business being transacted as opposition MPs relentlessly pursued their demand for a rollback of the decision to permit foreign investment in retail.

The stalemate over allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Indian retail market and other issues entered its eighth day with signs of a resolution in sight as both the opposition and the government stuck to their guns. Both houses met, were adjourned till noon and then for the day.

The government has refused to withdraw its cabinet decision to allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail and 100 percent in single-brand retail and the opposition is equally unblinking, asking it to reverse the policy or face continuing disruptions.

In the Lok Sabha, trouble erupted soon after Speaker Meira Kumar made obituary reference to former member Harish Kumar Gangawar of the Congress and read out a message on World AIDS Day. But that peace was short-lived.

Congress allies in the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) were the first to target the government. Trinamool Congress MPs were seen standing in the aisles protesting the FDI decision. Buoyed by the cracks in the ruling combine, BJP members, some of them smiling, were also up on their feet, raising slogans and demanding an adjournment motion on the issue.

Left members, ideologically opposed to any market reforms, also demanded that the policy needed to be reversed.

There were other issues as well.

Congress members from Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh raised the decibel level demanding a separate state of Telangana.

MPs from Kerala also walked towards Meira Kumar's podium demanding a new dam downstream of the leaking Mullaperiyar dam. They say the leakage has threatened the safety of more than three million people living in five districts of the state.

AIADMK members from Tamil Nadu were on the other side of the podium seeking implementation of the Supreme Court order on raising the storage level of the Mullaperiyar dam to 142 feet.

Meira Kumar tried to take the Question Hour but the din led her to adjourn the house till noon. When the ruckus continued after the house met again, she adjourned it for the day.

There was similar chaos in the Rajya Sabha. As Chairman Hamid Ansari called for Question Hour, opposition MPs were already shouting slogans against the FDI decision in retailing.

Bahujan Samaj Party leader Satish Chandra Mishra said an adjournment notice had already been given to suspend business and take up discussion on the government's new policy.

Ansari adjourned the house till noon first and then for the day.

This was the fourth day of the logjam in parliament over the FDI issue. In fact, no substantial business has been conducted in the winter session of parliament that began Nov 22 because of adjournments over price rise, FDI, Telangana and other issues.

The stalemate is costing the nation -- not only is tax payers' money being wasted on account of parliament budgetary allocations but key legislations are also awaiting approval from the houses.

The 21-day winter session - eight days of which have already been wasted - was scheduled to consider and pass 31 key bills, including the anti-graft Lokpal bill.

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