Unease has set in palpably within the BJP ranks even as the party appealed officially to the Congress to return to the Lok Sabha and let Parliament function. Several Opposition parties have boycotted Parliament following the suspension of 25 Congress MPs.
A number of senior BJP MPs and a minister from an NDA partner, when contacted, told The Indian Express the government has failed in “managing” the Opposition. Shatrughan Sinha, meanwhile, tweeted against the suspension and Hukum Singh said inside the House that the Opposition should be persuaded back inside.
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For the BJP, which has been trying through various channels to resolve the issue, the appeal came from Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and his cabinet colleague Ravi Shankar Prasad. “Not for the government or the BJP, please do a favour to the country. Allow legislation to be taken up… Opposition should leave politics aside for the country’s sake,” Naidu said.
Prasad told reporters, “We repeat the Opposition has a role and responsibility.” He asked the Congress to “introspect, reconsider and do soul-searching.”
The MPs The Indian Express contacted, however, put the onus on the government. “In democracy, the Opposition will take out all its weapons against the government. It’s the government that has to get them on board. Our floor managers have failed to do so,” said an MP from Rajasthan, recalling how well the floor managers of the treasury benches had managed the Opposition during the NDA’s first tenure under A B Vajpayee.
A veteran MP from Madhya Pradesh said the mishandling of the issue has given “the Opposition a reason to be united and the Congress a political and moral victory”. A non-BJP minister felt the suspension of 25 MPs would give the Congress “the energy to wake up from its slumber.”
Shatrughan Sinha tweeted, “Feel unhappy about the developments in the Parliament..& the expulsion of 25 learned MP friends, including one who was not even present”, and, “Good sense must prevail… sooner the better”.
In the Lok Sabha, Hukum Singh was speaking on the supplementary demand for grants when he pleaded for efforts to persuade the Opposition to attend the proceedings. Pointing out that so many empty seats were not a happy situation, he said, “We need to convince them to sit in the House and participate. The government and the party are trying… we should continue our efforts.”
The unhappiness of BJP MPs seemed to have reflected in their attendance, with around 40 present in the House . Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy had to run around to get the MPs to attend in the afternoon as the House did not have the quorum to discuss the supplementary demands for grants.
Government sources said though it is keen to ensure the suspension of the MPs is revoked, the Congress has shown no sign of blinking or given an assurance it would not disrupt the House again. Randeep Surjewala of the Congress, asked if the MPs would urge the Speaker to revoke their suspension, said “respect for the basic tenets of parliamentary functioning warrant that the Speaker reconsider her decision to permit dissent”.
A section in the government said they are “reconciled” to the fact that no legislation will happen this session. The government reiterated it would not yield to the Opposition demand for resignations of Union minister Sushma Swaraj and two BJP CMs. “Sushma Swaraj is a great asset to the nation…. Yet they want her to resign,” Naidu said at a function of the BJP’s youth wing.