As the monsoon session of Parliament got off to a tumultuous start, with the Congress stalling the Rajya Sabha, there were signs of discomfort within the party over its “disruption strategy”. At a meeting of Congress Lok Sabha MPs, chaired by party president Sonia Gandhi and attended by vice-president Rahul Gandhi, party leader Shashi Tharoor is learnt to have expressed his disapproval over the “stalling tactics”.
Outside, too, Congress MP in Rajya Sabha M S Gill told The Indian Express that there are several pressing issues that need to be discussed. “I would like to see Parliament work. The country has many serious problems. The 130 crore people of the country have many grave problems. So, we need to discuss and decide something for them and solve their problems,” he said.
Sonia and Rahul met Congress Lok Sabha MPs at the Congress Parliamentary Party office soon after the House was adjourned. Sources said Sonia asked the MPs to be aggressive and present in full strength in the House, and also signalled that the party should not cede any ground this week.
According to sources, Tharoor said the disruption tactics — a repeat of what the BJP did when it was in the opposition — may not be effective. He gave three reasons for this, sources said. First, the strength of the Congress is just 44, while the BJP had 110-plus members when it was in the opposition during the last Lok Sabha. Second, it is not clear whether the rest of the opposition will join the Congress, and it remains to be seen if the government can get them on its side. Third, Tharoor is learnt to have argued that the government will, in all likelihood, brazen out the opposition attack.
Tharoor, sources said, argued that the Congress should instead engage in discussion on all issues — be it Vyapam or the Lalit Modi episode — and use facts and figures to drive home its point. This will be heard by the media and the nation, he is learnt to have said.
Sources said Rahul agreed that facts should be presented to the people, and pointed out that even in Rajasthan, where he went last week, people were not fully aware of the Lalit Modi issue.
However, sources said, Rahul was not against the “disruption tactics”, and the general view at the meeting was that such tactics should be employed — at least this week. There will be a review of the strategy next week.
Sources said many MPs shared Tharoor’s views and felt they should not blindly follow what the BJP did during the UPA tenure.
On Wednesday, the Congress is expected to raise the Vyapam issue in the Lok Sabha. Accordingly, party leaders from Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia have given adjournment notices. Before the House meets, Congress MPs wearing black bands would stage a protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue. Sources said both Sonia and Rahul would lead the protest. They would repeat the same protest on Thursday over the Lalit Modi issue.