Updated: August 14, 2021 9:16:17 am
Faulting the government for not letting the Opposition raise “relevant issues” or allowing any discussion in the House during the monsoon session, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said Friday that “only when we can stay alive, can we raise issues that are important for the public”.
Speaking at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express, Kharge said the government was not letting the Opposition have its say on issues affecting the public, be it Pegasus, the farmer protests, Covid-19 management or rising prices.
“If we are alive, only then can we discuss other things. If we have a voice, then we can speak for others. If we don’t have a voice, then there will be no farmer issue, no inflation, no price-rise, neither Covid. The one speaking up should have the power,” he said.
This, he said, is important because “it is my fundamental right, it is my privacy, it is my security”.
On the alleged Pegasus surveillance matter and the spyware manufacturer NSO, Kharge said: “N means Narendra, S means Shah, O means overall surveillance” – he was referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. “That is NSO, the Israeli company, this is the company here,” he said.
He said the Opposition agenda for the monsoon session was to raise relevant issues. Not just the Congress, he said, but leaders of 15 Opposition parties together decided that the first issue to be raised should be “to save our independence, to save fundamental rights, to save freedom of expression and the freedom of speech”.
He alleged that no one was being spared and that the Pegasus spyware was being used against the “Press, Opposition leaders, Chief of Army, similarly all government officers, judges”.
He blamed the government for not allowing a discussion on the Pegasus issue. “We wasted at least 16 days.. if on one day, four or six hours, whatever the Speaker allots under business transaction,” had been allotted for discussion, “the problem would not have existed. The House would have worked smoothly,” he said.
“We put this Pegasus issue on Rule 267, that is not part of the Business agenda” and under which “we have got the right to request the Chairman to allow us (by) suspending all the rules, give priority to this issue, the particular issue, Pegasus.”
He said this has happened “multiple times in the past”.
Rajya Sabha has provision for Rule 267, he said, and Lok Sabha has the provision for adjournment motion. “So, adjournment motion everyday they were giving,” he said. “We are following that procedure, because adjournment motion provision is not there in Rajya Sabha, it is (in) Lok Sabha.”
On the Opposition demand seeking the presence of Modi or Shah in the House, Kharge said: “Why should the Home Minister or the Prime Minister not enter Parliament and explain? Because this pertains to their subject, it is not for IT or some other minister.” He said the issue of internal security is their responsibility.
On why a discussion was not allowed in Rajya Sabha, Kharge said: “It is the Chairman’s prerogative, which is why we go to his chamber, request him and go by rules. The rules are made by the House, and we go as per them.”
“If 30-40 members are giving notice every day, everyone rejected… I would not like to comment outside the House why the Chairman did not allow… This is the government’s fault. The government put pressure.”
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