Updated: February 5, 2021 7:44:42 am
WHILE THE Lok Sabha could not transact any business for the third straight day on Thursday with protesting opposition MPs remaining firm on their demand for a separate discussion on the farmers’ agitation, there were voices within the Congress which feel the standoff was unnecessary and the Lok Sabha could have followed the Rajya Sabha template.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition — after disrupting the House on Tuesday — came up with a peace formula. It asked the government to increase the time allocated for the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s Address so that members can speak on the farmers’ issue too, a proposal which the government readily agreed. The debate, which was to last for 10 hours, was increased to 15 hours after which the debate began on Wednesday.
“We wasted three days unnecessarily. We could have followed the Rajya Sabha model. A combined debate also has the advantage of the Prime Minister replying. A discussion under any other rule will be replied to by a minister. Disruption actually never helps the Opposition. We could have raised our points more effectively in a discussion. Now if we agree, it will send a wrong signal,” a Congress MP from a north Indian state told The Indian Express.
But the Congress leadership is in a fix. “The same parties which had agreed to the extended debate in the Rajya Sabha are insisting that in the Lok Sabha the government should allow a separate discussion immediately after the motion of thanks debate. The government says it wants to take up the discussion on the Budget after the debate on the President’s Address,” another Congress MP said.
Leaders of the Opposition parties met during the day to strategise. Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury attended the meeting and others present were DMK’s T R Baalu, AIUDF’s Badruddin Ajmal, AAP’s Bhagwant Mann and leaders of the Shiv Sena, CPM and the CPI. “It is members from Kerala and Tamil Nadu who are more aggressive because they have Assembly elections coming up. Our leaders are also not thinking through,” another Congress MP said.
“At the end of the day… there were only some 18 or 19 Opposition members in the Well. The government is citing the case of the Rajya Sabha. It has got an excuse to deny a separate debate. It is not that we cannot talk about the farmers’ issue in the President’s Address debate. Even if there is a separate debate… is it possible that members will not refer to the farmers’ agitation,” one member said.
One Opposition member, however, said the stance in both the Houses should have been the same. “They (the parties in Rajya Sabha) committed a blunder,” he said.
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