The Centre on Tuesday said it was ready to discuss all issues in the upcoming Budget session of Parliament, as opposition parties tried to corner it over a host of issues including the protests at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the suicide of a Dalit scholar at the University of Hyderabad in January.
“The government is ready to walk the extra mile to ensure discussion in Parliament on all issues raised by the opposition,” said parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu after an all-party meeting ahead of the Budget session.
Opposition parties asked the government to protect and preserve the autonomy of education institutions in the country. They also complained about conflicting views from the government over the JNU controversy.
The Congress said it dissociates itself from students who do not believe in the Constitution, but argued that JNU students’ association president Kanhaiya Kumar did not say anything for which he was charged for sedition.
The opposition, however, remained non-committal on supporting crucial reform bills such as the Goods and Services Tax bill. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said his Congress party want bills to be passed on merit.
“The country’s atmosphere has been vitiated by ministers and leaders from the ruling party,” Azad claimed demanding action against these leaders.
His comment came in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking the support of the opposition parties in smooth functioning of Parliament and timely passage of crucial bills. Modi’s decision to convene the meeting came at a time when the Budget session, scheduled to commence on February 23, already looks headed for a washout.
The NDA government has given a host of issues on a platter to the opposition viz, handling of the Pathankot terror attack and the government’s seeming diffidence on the resumption of India-Pakistan foreign secretary level talks, imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, controversial interventions of Union ministers leading to University of Hyderabad’s Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide, and now the JNU row.
Opposition parties also expressed concern about growing farm distress and issues concerning the common man. Demands were also raised for a discussion on President’s rule in Arunanchal Pradesh and raids against political parties and leaders.
The CPM also raised the issue of vandalism at its office and threat to its leader Sitaram Yechuri during the meeting.
Modi tried to reach out to the opposition saying he was not the Prime Minister of the BJP but of the entire country.
There is growing disquiet among Modi’s core support base among the students and the youth over the NDA government’s handling of campus protests, be it at FTII, Pune, or UoH or JNU. While the PM has been silent, his ministers and party colleagues have not exactly helped regain the students’ confidence with their provocative statements.