Updated: July 31, 2021 11:50:53 am
With the Pegasus row disrupting Parliament for the ninth straight day, sources said on Friday that the government is “seriously considering the curtailment of the Monsoon Session”.
The session, which began on July 19, was to go on until August 13.
“The government is ready to discuss every people-related issue in Parliament, but the Opposition does not want that. It’s a complete waste of money and time,” a minister said. He added that the “looming Covid threat… with many areas reporting cases” would also be a factor if the government decides to wind up the session.
However, he added, the government would make “some more efforts” to “convince” the opposition leaders to agree for a smooth functioning of both the Houses.
While the Opposition has been insisting on a full-fledged debate on the Pegasus spyware issue, the government’s stand has been that it is ready to discuss anything but that.
Despite the din in Lok Sabha ever since the Pegasus row broke out on July 18, the eve of the Monsoon session, the government has passed five Bills in the Lower House. On Friday, two Bills, which had been issued as ordinances, were introduced – The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill 2021 and The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021. Sources said the government would push the remaining Bills, listed for this session, next week.
Sources in the Opposition, which has found a common cause in the Pegasus issue, indicated that they cannot settle for anything less than a full-fledged discussion. “The Opposition is united now on our demand for a proper debate (on the Pegasus row) and has reached a point of no-return,” said a senior Congress leader.
While the Congress and its allies, the TMC and the SAD-BSP grouping have been protesting in the well of the house from the start of the session, the Opposition coordination has been evident since Thursday, a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee met Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
On Friday, when the House met, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury pointed out that the Opposition was ready for a discussion on Pegasus. “Opposition wants discussion on Pegasus. We want to debate every issue — farm bills, Covid situation etc — but the government is not ready.”
Signalling its reluctance to hold a debate on the Pegasus row, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi termed it a “non-issue” and “non-serious” issue. Joshi argued that the government is ready to discuss issues that are directly related to people. “We do not want to pass the Bill without a discussion. As I have already told you, there are many issues which are directly related to the poor people of India. Let them raise the issues and give suggestions,” he said.
The Lower House witnessed uproarious scenes yet again on Friday with MPs belonging to the Congress, DMK, Left parties, BSP, SAD and Trinamool Congress storming into the well of the house, shouting slogans and raising placards with demands of repealing the farm laws and seeking a discussion on Pegasus. The House was first adjourned at 11.35 am until noon and then for the day at 12.15 pm.
Among the suggestions for resolving the issue, the government could propose another statement by the IT Minister and the members could be given a chance to seek clarifications. But Opposition sources said they would not agree to these proposals.
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