The Opposition pressed for an inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the Rafale deal and flagged its concerns over the “misuse” of probe agencies and working of EVMs at a meeting between the government and floor leaders of parties on Monday, a day before Winter Session of Parliament gets underway.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to leaders of opposition parties to make use of the session as it was going to be the last full-fledged session before Lok Sabha polls next year.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who briefed the media on the deliberations at the meeting, said: “The Prime Minister said we all need to cooperate with each other on issues of public interest. He underlined that in a democracy, both the government and the Opposition share their inputs for an efficient governance.”
Tomar said the government is “ready to discuss all issues as per rules and procedures — if anybody wants to bring something to the Government’s notice inside the House or even outside, we are open to it”. Asked whether the government is ready for a JPC inquiry into the Rafale deal, he said the Opposition raised several issues, and will have to “prioritise things” since the session will last only four weeks. He said leaders of all parties assured the government of full cooperation in smooth conduct of the session.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the government had “failed to take a decision on our demand for a JPC inquiry into the Rafale deal”. He also said, “People have lost their faith in EVMs because they have been discovered at homes, on buses and jeeps, and even on roads. The EVM issue has to be settled if democracy has to survive.”
Shiv Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire said his party will not let both Houses function if the government did not bring a Bill for construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya. Asked about Khaire’s demand, Tomar only said that the temple issue was not on agenda of the meeting. Tomar said the government had 46 items on agenda, including three ordinances, the Supplementary Budget and government legislation.
At a meeting of floor leaders of various parties ahead of the Winter Session convened by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad spoke of their keenness for a meaningful and productive session. Both leaders sought equitable allocation of time for the government’s legislative proposals. Azad said issues that the Opposition seeks to raise should be allowed in the House.
Both Houses would adjourn Tuesday after paying tributes to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and former Union minister Ananth Kumar.