WITH THE deadlock in Parliament entering the third week, the government reached out to the Congress Tuesday to find a middle ground. Sources said top government representatives spoke to Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, and sought a meeting but he did not give an immediate response.
The Opposition has sought an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “disparaging” remarks against them outside the House and a discussion on demonetisation in Lok Sabha under rule 56 that entails voting; the government has refused . A give-and-take on these issues could lead to a breakthrough, as the government has made it clear Modi will be present in the House and could intervene in the debate — stalled in Rajya Sabha and yet to begin in Lok Sabha. Sources said Azad told the government representatives that he would discuss the issue with other Opposition parties Wednesday.
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However, the passage of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha Tuesday, despite the Opposition’s objection regarding rules, has come up as the latest irritant. Congress leaders said the Opposition leaders would discuss the “bulldozing” of the bill and chalk out a joint strategy.
Congress member K C Venugopal had moved an amendment to insert a provision to waive “short-term loans of farmers, education loans to students who have not got jobs and loans of fishermen”. But, the Congress said, the government did not even secure the President’s assent for moving the amendment with financial implication, which is necessary, and pushed the bill through.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government did not even secure the President’s assent to the amendments moved by Opposition members. “The bill was brought in a hurry… the government could have accepted the adjournment motion and discussion on demonetisation and the taxation bill could have been taken up together…They are not ready to follow democratic principles… They are killing democracy step by step and are passing all bills by bulldozing,” he said. “In 10 minutes, they passed a bill on an issue which has created a storm in the country… We believe there is undeclared Emergency and the steps they are taking give an impression that they are moving towards dictatorship.”
Venugopal said a copy of his amendment was circulated at 1:45 pm, in which it was stated that it “requires the President’s recommendation for moving”. “The opportunity of a member to move an amendment has been curtailed and denied here….the government is bypassing Parliament,” he said.
This is the second time the government has reached out in a week. On November 23, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar had invited six Opposition leaders for a meeting, but they demanded the government call all parties together.