Opposition hints at letting House resume tomorrow

Protests to continue Tuesday, ‘fresh look’ at strategy Wednesday.

Written by Manoj C G , Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Published: December 6, 2016 2:07 am
demonetisation, demonetisation debate, rajya sabha, rajya sabha adjourned, rajya sabha protest, congress, demonetisation protest, lok sabha, lok sabha adjourned, parliament, winter session, indian express news, india news Outside the House, Trinamool MP protest Monday. Source: Anil Sharma

The impasse in Parliament entered its third week Monday but hopes of resolution emerged with Opposition leaders saying they would take a decision Wednesday whether to continue their protests over the currency crunch. They did not rule out the possibility of normalcy returning later this week.

Top leaders of the Opposition met in the chamber of Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Sources said the decision was to continue the protest in both Houses for the next two days before meeting Wednesday for a fresh look at strategy.

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The sources said the general consensus was employees and pensioners are finding it difficult to withdraw their salaries and pensions and this issue should be reflected in Parliament. At the same time, there is a feeling among some Opposition leaders that the disruption strategy is not working well.

“I have always believed that disruption is not the right strategy beyond a point. Rather, the government should be cornered on the floor of the House with unpleasant and pointed questions,” a Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress told The Indian Express.

Asked about the possibility of the stalled discussion on demonetisation resuming in Rajya Sabha later this week, a senior Opposition leader said, “Nothing can be ruled out.” He preferred to call the situation “fluid” and argued the government too will have to walk halfway. “As of today, we have decided we will meet again on Wednesday to decide the strategy,” he said.

In Rajya Sabha, the Opposition is demanding an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what it calls his “disparaging” remarks against them outside the House. In Lok Sabha, the Opposition wants a discussion under a rule which entails voting.

The government, which does not want a vote, could argue a discussion has already started under rule 193 – which does not have provision for voting. TRS MP Jithender Reddy did start the discussion under this rule, although he was barely audible.

Consensus has not yet been built around an earlier draft motion for discussion under rule 184 (which has provisions for voting) that the Opposition had submitted but sources say efforts are now on to find middle ground with a “softer” motion under rule 184.

“Writing out a motion in state of anger does not resolve any issue,” said a government source.

At the Opposition strategy meeting it was decided that the parties including Congress, Trinamool, DMK, CPM, CPI, AIUDF, JD(U), AAP would not allow the discussion to happen under rule 193 Monday and Tuesday.

Opposition sources say there are efforts to draft a motion that instead of talking about deaths allegedly due to demonetisation, the discussion be about the failure of the government to assuage the situation and prevent inconvenience to the people.

In Rajya Sabha the Opposition’s demand for an apology by the PM seems to have been dislodged as the central peg of the Opposition protests, with MPs raising the issue of non-payment of salaries.

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