India parliament session adjourns amid state split row

Indian parliament
Image caption The session has begun on a stormy note

The opening day of a key winter session of the Indian parliament has ended abruptly amid uproar as MPs demanded a discussion on a move to split the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

The Uttar Pradesh state assembly on Monday passed a resolution to divide the state into four smaller ones.

The move has failed to win support in most of the opposition parties.

Parliament's main winter session issue will be discussion of a landmark anti-corruption law.

But correspondents in Delhi say unless the Congress-led government and the opposition agree to work together, the session could be wasted like the last one, where very little legislative work was done.

'Under pressure'

Members in the Lok Sabha (lower house) demanded a discussion on the situation in Uttar Pradesh as soon as the session began on Tuesday morning.

Following chaotic scenes, the house was first adjourned till noon and later, for the day.

The Rajya Sabha (upper house) was also adjourned for the day on the issue.

Correspondents say the next few days of the session are also expected to be stormy, with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party announcing it is "boycotting" federal Home Minister P Chidambaram for his alleged role in a telecoms bribery scam.

Mr Chidambaram denies any wrongdoing.

Image caption Mr Hazare has promised to resume his fast if the parliament does not pass the ombudsman law

The alleged telecoms scam, which may have cost the country $39bn (£23bn), is one of a number of scandals that have rocked the government recently.

"We will neither listen to him, nor allow him to speak in parliament," BJP leader SS Ahluwalia said.

The key issue of the session will be the anti-corruption law.

The government is under pressure from anti-corruption campaigners to pass the law, to allow the setting up of a citizens' ombudsman, also known as the Jan Lokpal.

This would be an independent body with the power to investigate politicians and civil servants suspected of corruption.

PM Manmohan Singh has said he hopes parliament will work together.

Earlier this month, anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare said he would resume his hunger strike at the end of the month-long winter session if it did not pass the law.

Mr Hazare went on a 12-day hunger strike in August to demand the government set up the independent ombudsman.

A parliamentary panel examining the law is expected to submit its report by the end of November.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has said that the government will have an "open mind and will give a serious thought" to the panel's recommendation.

Though Congress and the BJP have favoured the law, some of the smaller regional parties have expressed reservations against what they believe will be an all-powerful ombudsman.

Key bills

Separately, opposition parties are likely to press for a debate on rising prices, demands for the creation of a new state of Telangana in Andhra Pradesh, and recent developments in India-Pakistan ties.

A number of other key bills are expected to be tabled during the winter session.

They include proposed laws aimed at providing protection for whistleblowers, guaranteeing cheap food for the majority of Indians and empowering people to complain against judges accused of corruption.

Reports say the government plans to bring 31 bills for passage during the new parliament session.

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