Given how the first few days of the Monsoon Session have been, with the government seeming obstinate and the Opposition sticking to its demands, how do you see the rest of the session panning out? Will it be a washout?
It’s very unfortunate. How the session will turn out entirely depends on the government. As I have argued in the House, one of the basic tasks of Parliament is to make the Executive accountable. Here are certain allegations that cannot be settled through a parliamentary debate. There has to be an investigation. And till the investigation is on, it is a normal practice that the person accused demits office. That is all we are asking for…like in the 2G scam. At that time, the then government was obdurate. Today, this government is.
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Can you see a compromise formula for conducting of some legislative business?
What could be the compromise? We are saying that the Executive has to be accountable to Parliament…Either the government agrees, or it does not.
If the government has any other proposal to meet this point, we will surely consider it. But the government has not been forthcoming so far.
Is there any floor coordination taking place between Congress and the Left?
There are no meetings or pre-determined discussions. As the issues are raised in the House everyday, a coordination seems to be taking place on the floor itself.
Has the government reached out to the Opposition at all?
On Thursday, we were informed verbally that the Leader of the House would like to meet all the other leaders in his chamber. But we were not told what the agenda was.
So, many parties thought there was no point in going unless there was some concrete proposal. But no such overture has come from the government so far.
How do you view the roles of parties like the Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress with regard to the ongoing controversy?
As I said, there has been no floor coordination. But on the floor of the House, leaders of all parties have spoken more or less in the same vein. I think that conveys a certain degree of agreement on the manner in which we should proceed.
Do you think there is a feeling among other parties that the Congress and Left are being too obdurate about not letting the Parliament function?
I can speak only for the Left. We are coming every morning with the intention of participating in a functioning House…We want it to function. Whether or not it will, depends entirely on the government.
The Opposition and the government can blame each other, but what message is going out to the people? Isn’t the common man blaming his elected representative for wasting time?
I’m sure the people are perceiving that the Opposition is raising a legitimate point, while the government is trying to brazen out this entire episode…They know that Parliament is not functioning because of the government and not the Opposition.
The BJP has been adopting this strategy of counter allegations against the Congress. How do you view that? Do you think that has any traction?
Not at all. There is no other counter strategy that can be worked out in this.
On the Land Acquisition Bill, the Congress has made it clear that any change from its version of the legislation is unacceptable. Is the Left open to discussion with the government on the issue?
We are discussing it with the government. A Joint Parliamentary Committee is looking into the issue and it should have presented its report by now. The fact that the government has now lost interest in presenting the report is clear. The chairman, who belongs to the ruling party, does not appear keen to hold meetings in order to complete the work. It is clear the government is buying time. In the joint panel, we have made our stand clear. We want the 2013 law to be amended further in the interest of farmers.