New Delhi: The opposition parties skipped the meetings of floor leaders of the House convened by Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar Tuesday to discuss a way out to break the ongoing stalemate in Parliament.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and leaders of some other parties, however, reached the office of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, who had also made a similar appeal to the opposition MPs.
“It’s very disappointing that the Congress is humiliating the chairman. … A few other parties also did not attend the meetings. Even Mallikarjun Kharge in the House told that he will not meet the chairman. It shows that the Congress party’s intention is different. They don’t want to discuss a popular Budget presented by the finance minister,” Commerce Minister and Leader of House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal told reporters.
On the other hand, the opposition MPs held a protest in the corridors of Parliament House on the seventh day of the second leg of the Budget Session. Seeking a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani-Hindenburg row, they also hung a banner that read ‘We want JPC’ from the first floor of Parliament building.
Both the Houses of Parliament are caught in a logjam as the Congress and other opposition parties are demanding a JPC inquiry into the Adani controversy while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is insisting on an apology from Rahul Gandhi for his remarks which it claims were an insult to the country in foreign soil.
On Tuesday, the BJP fielded Sambit Patra to step up pressure on Rahul for his remarks made during his trip to the UK. The BJP spokesperson compared the Gandhi scion with “a present day Mir Jafar“.
“Rahul Gandhi, through his remarks, has given an open invitation to the foreign countries to come and ‘protect’ the democracy in India. Mani Shankar Aiyar and Rahul Gandhi are doing the same thing; both are defaming India,” he said, adding the former Congress president has to seek apology like in the Rafale case.
As the government suggested the presiding officers of both Houses to find a way out to play optics for shifting the blame on the opposition for the ongoing disruption, the MPs of 17 non-BJP parties came up with new strategies to carry out its protest.
Holding placards seeking a probe against businessman Gautam Adani, several opposition MPs protested in front of SBI office in Parliament and chanted slogans of ‘We want JPC’.
The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC), which is not on the same page with the Congress over opposition unity, held a separate protest at Vijay Chowk.
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Choksi raked up
As soon as the Rajya Sabha began after a brief business of presenting papers, House chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar allowed Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge to speak in the House.
But, members of the treasury bench disrupted the proceedings as soon as Kharge started to speak following which Dhankhar adjourned the House. He invited leaders of all parties to his chamber to discuss a way out to break the stalemate.
Similar scenes played out in the Lok Sabha, where the opposition members resorted to slogans of ‘Narendra Modi. Shame Shame. We want JPC‘. After his attempts to bring order went futile, Birla adjourned the House for the first half and urged MPs to assemble at his chamber to discuss their issues.
Earlier in the day, the Congress focus was to attack the government at a new front by raking up fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi’s name being dropped out of the Interpol database of Red Corner Notices.
“Why is the Government stalling discussions in the Parliament? Is it not the responsibility of the Government to run the house and address issues of national interest? If there is ‘Saaf Niyat, Sahi Vikas’, why run away from debate, PM Saab?” Kharge tweeted.
In another tweet, the Congress president attacked the PM for Interpol withdrawing the Red Corner Notice issued against Choksi.
विपक्षी नेताओं के लिए ED-CBI, पर मोदी जी के "हमारे मेहुल भाई" के लिए इंटरपोल से रिहाई !
जब "परम मित्र" के लिए कर सकते हैं संसद ठप्प,
तो "पुराना मित्र" जिसको किया था 5 साल पहले फ़रार,
भला उसकी मदद से कैसे करें इंकार?
डूबे देश के हज़ारों-करोड़,
"न खाने दूंगा" बना जुमला बेजोड़ !
— Mallikarjun Kharge (@kharge) March 21, 2023
Despite the commotion, the Lok Sabha passed a Rs 1.185 lakh crore budget for the financial year 2023-24 for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hinting at the passage of these two Bills, a government source asserted the government would not cave in the face of the opposition’s pressure.
“The government’s obligation is to pass the Finance Bill which can be taken up without discussion if the House doesn’t resort to normalcy by the next week. It had passed such Bills in 2018 and 2020 without discussion…,” the source told ThePrint.
At the same time, the source said that the government wants to pass the Budget after discussion but it can happen only when the opposition is willing to participate in the process. “First, they (the opposition) have to take one step, then the government will find a way out. But if you want to use Parliament for an election campaign, it is not going to happen,” the source said, hinting at the forthcoming state elections such as Karnataka.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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