All party meet fails to break Parliament logjam

NEW DELHI : The all party meeting today failed to break the nearly fortnight-long deadlock in Parliament with Congress unrelenting on its demand for resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and BJP CMs Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Government firmly rejecting it.

However, a number of regional parties including Trinamool Congress and Biju Janta Dal voiced anguish over continued disruption of the Houses and asked the two national parties to resolve the matter to ensure that other issues are discussed in Parliament.

JD(U) and Left parties, however, backed Congress in the meeting.

“Outcome of the meeting is nil, we stand by our demand. Government wants to be the King and they expect the Opposition parties to behave like the subjects. Such things do not work in a democracy. Democracy is give and take.

“Government has not taken any initiative. They want to pass bills. At the same time they do not want to take concerns raised by Opposition parties on board,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters after the all-party meet.

The meeting saw the Congress upping the ante against the goverment after Congress President Sonia Gandhi set the tone for the party’s strident line in a meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party earlier in the day.

“Government came without any proposal. They did not have any suggestion and made only an appeal. The meeting was totally unproductive,” CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury told reporters after the meeting.

Rejecting Congress charge that Government was being arrogant in not listening to Opposition demands, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said that the government has always “walked the extra mile” to accommodate Opposition’s views and cited examples of referring GST and Real Estate Bills to Select Committee on the demand of Congress.

While expressing Government’s readiness to discuss any issue and offer intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu at the same time made it clear that there will be “no resignation” as the NDA ministers have done “nothing illegal or immoral”.

He also slammed the Congress for running a “campaign of calumny” against Swaraj, who he said is one of the “best performing ministers” of the government.

When asked by the Opposition members on what is the new thing the government was offering them, Naidu cited the offer of intervention by Modi during discussions.

While the government claimed that Congress got isolated on its stand of “no resignation, no discussion” line, no sign of any chance of smooth functioning of Parliament emerged after the meeting.

While Congress had the full backing of JD(U) and Left parties, Trinamool Congress, BJD, SP DMK and some other parties were keen that Parliament fuctioned.

SP’s Ramgopal Yadav said the BJP and Congress should not make it a prestige issue and resolve the impasse in Parliament through some concession from both sides, sources said.

BJD’s B Mehtab said that members have come to Parliament for debate and not boycott. He also said if it has been decided that Parliament will not run, then it should be adjourned sine die so that members can go back to their homes.

Later, he said that he had made the remarks in an anguish as he is not in favour of Parliament’s time getting wasted like this.

Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said that the issue is between the BJP and the Congress but both are “adamant” on their demands.

He said that his party had to discuss a number of demands related to West Bengal but it is not happening due to disruptions.

His colleague Derek ‘O’Brien said that “past has now become present” and Congress was doing the same thing now what was earlier done by BJP. He is learnt to have said that members are keen to discuss issues and not individuals noting that this kind of ‘tutu main main’ (sparring) will not do.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh who spoke the last in the meeting asked why Congress was repeating a mistake if it says the BJP had made a mistake in the past by disrupting Parliament.

He also disagreed with the Congress’ charge that BJP did not allow Parliament to function till UPA ministers had resigned, saying BJP had allowed discussions even then.

Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) suggested to Congress if they think NDA did wrong, they should not repeat it and start a new precedent. “Congress and BJP should together sort it out,” he said.

DMK’s K Ramalingam wondered how can the resignation of Swaraj be sought without listening to her point of view and referred to her statement in Rajya Sabha today in which she said that she had not made any request to British government for issue of travel documents to controversial former IPL chief Lalit Modi and asserted that all allegations against her were “baseless and unfounded”.

After the meeting was over, Naidu claimed that except one or two parties, none supported Congress stand of first action and then discussion. “The broad view in the meeting was that most of the political parties wanted a discussion. People want Parliament to function. I hope they (Congress) understand the spirit of the all-party meet.” (AGENCIES)


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