The BJP on Tuesday asked its lawmakers not to make provocative statements amid a debate on rising intolerance in the country in Parliament where controversial comments by some party leaders, including ministers, have aided the opposition in its attack on the government.
In the first parliamentary party meeting during the winter session, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu told members that provocative statements are being used by the anti-BJP forces to deflect the attention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development agenda.
“MPs were told to speak with understanding and decorum. There is a need to avoid controversy... At a time when the Prime Minister is pushing ahead with his development agenda, many people are unable to digest it and any misstep will allow anti-BJP forces to work it to their benefit. We should avoid making provocative statements,” Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said quoting Naidu.
The minister told reporters after the meeting that the debate on the issue of intolerance was “unmasking” those who were misleading the country and added the party MPs were told that communal riots were controlled under the BJP-led NDA government and there was social harmony everywhere.
Naqvi added that those protesting over the issue include many “great intellectuals” who had issued an appeal to the people to vote against Modi during the Lok Sabha poll. People rejected their appeal but they have not able to get over it, he said.
The “constructive discussion” between Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh was also flagged in the meeting. “We have all hopes that developmental issues will be discussed and passed,” Naqvi said, apparently referring to the goods and services tax (GST) bill.
He said members were also briefed about the recent elections, including one in Bihar where the BJP suffered a big defeat, and the need to work to spread the party ideology was stressed. The senior BJP leader said the parliamentary party, which includes MPs of both the Houses, expressed happiness over the party’s success in local elections in a number of states.
Asked about the results of the Bihar assembly elections, he said the party had tried hard. “We respect the people’s mandate. But no mandate is final.”
According to Naqvi, finance minister Arun Jaitley said in the meeting that the economic growth of 7.4% in the last quarter was a positive sign for the country and will help the government take development to the poor. Jaitley told the members that the economic growth at a good rate in India was a happy development at a time when it was weakening across the world.
The government has elaborate legislative agenda planned for the winter session but its top priority remains the landmark indirect tax law, the GST bill.
Keen to pass key bills, the government has reached out to the opposition for arriving on a consensus on its key reforms. The last monsoon session was a complete washout and the government is running short of its deadline to roll out the GST bill.
The opposition on Monday raised the issue of rising intolerance in the country and Lok Sabha saw uproars and repeated adjournments over a remark made by CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim who attributed ‘Hindu leader’ comments to Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Singh denied having made the comment.
The first two days of the session that began on November 26 were functional as parties did not want to be seen blocking a discussion on the Constitution on the occasion of BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary even though the opposition attacked the government over alleged rise in intolerance and communal violence.
(With agency inputs)