With the first week of the Monsoon Session of Parliament ending in a washout as the Opposition locked horns with the government over its demand for an urgent discussion on price rise and the hike in GST rates, the Congress today demanded that Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla convene a meeting of the floor leaders to find a way out.
Talking to The Indian Express, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said a middle path or an alternative solution could be found through discussions and argued that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has always spoken about the importance of dialogue and deliberations in democracy.
While the Opposition has been demanding an immediate discussion on price rise and the hike in GST rates of essential commodities, the government has maintained that it is ready for a discussion, but it can be held only after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers from Covid.
“Nirmala Sitharaman is not our enemy. She is like our sister. We are not saying that she be called to Parliament and a discussion be held now. Let her recover completely. We are saying either the government agrees on a date for the discussion… or start the discussion now. Any other senior minister can reply. We are not insisting that Sitharaman should reply. Or let the discussion take place and she can reply later once she recovers,” he said.
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“What I mean to say is that some way out can be found, but there has to be a dialogue. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that the House functions smoothly…Solutions can be found if both sides sit together and have a discussion. But the government only believes in accusing the Opposition of not letting the House function. That is far from the truth,” Chowdhury added.
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Pointing out that the government often tells other countries that all disputes should be resolved through dialogue, Chowdhury said, “Why is this mantra not being implemented in the House? The government can hold a dialogue with the Opposition. At the all-party meeting, Rajnath Singh said the government was willing for a discussion on all issues. He said the government was even prepared for a discussion on the Agnipath scheme. Now the government is saying the matter is sub-judice. In India, everything is sub-judice. Most of the issues are in court. That way, Parliament will not be able to discuss anything,” he said.
Chowdhury pointed out that the government had briefed the parliamentary consultative committee on defence about the Agnipath scheme. “If it was sub-judice, how was it discussed in the consultative committee? Outside Parliament, your leaders say Agnipath is a revolutionary scheme. Then why shy away from a discussion in the House?,” he asked.
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