Updated: April 7, 2018 7:14:19 am
With the ruling BJP and Congress involved in a blame-game over the complete washout of the latter half of the Budget Session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday announced a fast by BJP MPs on April 12 to protest the impasse “caused” by the Opposition in Parliament. Both Houses were adjourned sine die on Friday.
Addressing BJP MPs on the party’s foundation day, PM Modi accused Congress of taking “Parlia-mentary proceedings to a new low” and “throttling” democracy.
While the Congress countered by accusing the government of engineering the disruptions to avoid any discussion, Opposition leaders, according to sources, told the government at the customary post-session tea meeting at the Rajya Sabha Chairman’s chamber that the Monsoon Session could meet a similar fate unless the government starts back-channel talks.
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“There could be more of this in Monsoon Session if the government does not reach out. We also told ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: if the issues of special status for Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery management board are left hanging, how could the Monsoon Session be any different?” a senior Opposition leader, who was part of the meeting, said.
Soon after BJP announced that its MPs will observe fast on April 12, the Congress, too, announced a nationwide fast on April 9 to “protect and promote harmony”. The party asked the government not to prorogue the session, and reconvene Parliament for two weeks, or 10 days, to debate key issues and pass laws.
At the BJP meeting, Modi is learnt to have told BJP MPs that Opposition members almost surrounded him during his reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address to Parliament, and that such disruption during a Prime Minister’s speech was unprecedented. Modi had replied in both Houses during the first-half.
Addressing a media conference after the session was concluded, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar also attacked the Congress: “It was negative politics and its (Congress’s) intolerance towards people’s mandate that stalled Parliament…”
But Anand Sharma said, “The Congress is not responsible for the disruption. We wanted debate, we wanted accountability, and we shall continue to demand that. Today we have told the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to inform the government that we are willing: do not prorogue the Houses, they have been adjourned only sine die. Reconvene the Parliament for two weeks or 10 days to debate issues and bring in important laws.”
Other Opposition leaders said there has been no effort by the government to break the deadlock. Sharma pointed out that Modi was not present in Rajya Sabha when the session came to a close and called it an insult to the Upper House.
Andhra Pradesh Assembly also passed a resolution, urging the Centre to convene a special session of Parliament to review the provision of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act and assurances made in Rajya Sabha, including special category status.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge accused the government and its allies for disrupting Lok Sabha, and asked why members causing disturbance were not suspended and the no-confidence motions taken up for discussion.
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