The Modi government Thursday fielded eight Union ministers to take on the Opposition over the washed-out Monsoon Session, accusing it of “bringing anarchy from the streets to Parliament” and of “literally threatening that if (the government attempts to pass more) Bills, there will be even more damage”.
The press conference by the ministers followed days of protests by Opposition parties, which joined ranks to stall the functioning of Parliament and on Thursday held a march outside the House as well as presented a memorandum to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu over what happened in the House Wednesday. The Monsoon Session was adjourned Wednesday sine die, two days ahead of schedule.
The ministers, including Cabinet ministers Piyush Goyal, Dharmendra Pradhan, Pralhad Joshi, Bhupendra Yadav, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Anurag Thakur, as well as Ministers of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muraleedharan, sought the “strongest possible action against those who broke the rules”.
Joshi, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, also blamed the Opposition for the early end of the Session, saying the government actually intended to extend it till Monday (it was to wrap up on Friday). “However, the Opposition said we will not discuss. I requested them to cooperate at least in the passing of our Bills. We were threatened, saying that if you try to pass the Bill… insurance Bill and other Bills… a more disastrous situation (might happen). You saw in the evening what happened yesterday, the climbing on tables, more than that was going to happen. This was clearly told in unambiguous terms. It was told to us. Now, they are saying that Bills were passed in the din,” Joshi said.
Specifically attacking the Congress, he added: “It was pre-decided by the Congress and its friendly parties that we should not allow Parliament to function this time and we should take it towards a washout… That’s why I am trying to count the chronology of the events.”
Blaming the disruptions in the House for the Bills being passed without discussion, Joshi said the Opposition is “not ready to digest the people’s mandate”. “Especially the Congress feels that ye hamara seat tha, ye Modiji ne aakar chheen liya (This was our territory, Modi has usurped it), that this is our birthright. Because of this mentality, these things are happening. I also demand action against people who climbed on tables and tried to manhandle marshals,” Joshi said, adding that he had asked Naidu to look into it.
Goyal described the incidents in the Houses as a “shameful disgrace in the parliamentary history of India”. The Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha said: “This is a clear sign that the Opposition is trying to preempt any action because of their misconduct and unruly behaviour… The threatening approach of the Opposition, the way they manhandled the security personal of Parliament and the marshals… the way they (climbed on) tables, the way they attacked the Chair, it was a shameful disgrace.”
Thakur called the Opposition behaviour “condemnable” and termed its protests “ghadiyali ansoo (crocodile tears)”. The Minister for Information and Broadcasting demanded that the Opposition apologise to the country, adding, “While the people expect issues pertaining to them to be raised in the House, the Opposition’s agenda has been only anarchy, from street to Parliament. Neither do they care about public interest, nor about taxpayers’ money or Constitutional values.”
Responding to the Opposition’s allegation that women MPs were manhandled in the Rajya Sabha by the marshals, Bhupender Yadav said: “You can see the footage which shows women MPs misbehaving with women marshals.”
Goyal took on NCP leader Sharad Pawar over his statement that outsiders were brought into Parliament to restrain the Opposition MPs. “He was wrongly informed, maybe by somebody. Their figures are wrong and their allegations are also wrong… I would like to urge Sharad Pawar ji to introspect on the behaviour of the Opposition, whether the parties with which he is standing today is what he has seen in 55 years of his parliamentary career. Has he ever seen this type of things? I think Pawar ji should tell the nation whether he condones this behaviour,” Goyal said.
Pradhan, who was also present at the press conference, tweeted alleging an Opposition “toolkit”. In a series of tweets, Pradhan said, “Disrupting the Parliament has emerged as a new Toolkit for the Congress and the opposition parties to prevent themselves from getting exposed on the web of lies that they had spun on key public issues.”
The Monsoon Session, which began on July 13, was marked by continuous protests by the Opposition, demanding discussions on the Pegasus spyware controversy and contentious farm laws, forcing repeated adjournments in the two Houses. After protesting separately, the Opposition had later coordinated its actions, with several meetings held between parties.
Amidst the ruckus, the government had pushed through as many as 20 Bills in the Lok Sabha and 19 in the Rajya Sabha, almost all without any discussion. Besides, 13 Bills were introduced in the Lower House.
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