Updated: December 23, 2021 10:31:10 am
As the stormy Winter Session of Parliament came to an end, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge Wednesday said he was ready to express “regret” on behalf of the 12 suspended lawmakers, which the government did not agree to as it wanted to push Bills through without discussion.
Kharge also took potshots at Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu claiming that the government had exerted pressure on him and that he, as the guardian of the House, made no effort to resolve the standoff between the Treasury and Opposition benches.
Throughout this session, Rajya Sabha was repeatedly disrupted over the suspension of the MPs.
Kharge said the government was not ready to resolve the stalemate over the suspension. “The day (the MPs were suspended) I was ready to express regret on behalf of all of them. Why take it forward… They committed a mistake and we were punished,” Kharge told reporters along with Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh.
Ramesh said Kharge had on November 29 and November 30 told Leader of the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi that he was ready to express regret on behalf of everyone, but that Goyal had been insisting from day one that all the suspended members should apologise.
“I thought about it afterwards. Their intention was to pass every bill urgently… in the din without any discussion. They wanted to fulfill their agenda… Why were they doing that? I looked at the numbers. The UPA has 68 members in the Rajya Sabha. The other opposition parties have 50. There are two independents. So the opposition has a strength of 120. And the NDA has 118. So they thought if there is voting on the Bills that they were bringing… if division is sought… they will be in a minority. So they suspended 12 members on the very first day,” Kharge said.
“The government hatched a conspiracy. They wanted to pass all bills and avoid facing crucial issues of national importance, be it inflation, unemployment, GDP slide, farmers’ protest, Lakhimpur Kheri, resignation of Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra….their intention was to let the House remain disrupted…so that they don’t need to answer questions on these issues,” he added.
Kharge also criticised what he felt was the adjournment of the House at the slightest disturbance. “We give notice… and then even before we get up to speak… House is adjourned till 2 pm. You must have seen it. At least hear us for two minutes, one minutes or at least 10 seconds. The moment I get up… even before I speak… Chairman adjourns the House. Why? It happens under pressure from the government. The government was exerting pressure,” he claimed.
“And the Chairman has repeatedly told us. I don’t want to say anything against him… because he is senior… our Chairman… our guardian. But he has told us repeatedly that he cannot do anything. You and the government sort it out. We are fighting. How can we resolve… there should be someone who should mediate… But when he asked him… he says it is between you and the government and if the government does not agree what can I do,” Kharge said.
Chowdhury said the Opposition wanted the House to function, but when Mishra’s name came up, they thought of seeking answers from the government as he is a member of the Union cabinet. “We demanded a discussion and wanted that for the sake of morality, he should resign till the time the probe is over in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident,” he said. “The tension in the House cropped up due to the arrogance of the majority of the ruling party. They only want to bulldoze through the majority they enjoy.”
Chowdhury added: “We were never running away from a debate. We wanted a discussion on price rise, but it was listed after the Lakhimpur issue came up. They deliberately brought the price rise issue to stop us from raising the Lakhimpur issue.”
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