Can Saturday’s all-party meet ensure peace in Parliament?

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2016 14:15 IST
Members of the Rajya Sabha in uproar over the Goods and Services Tax Bill, during the 2015 winter session. In a bid to avoid a repeat performance, vice-president Hamid Ansari has called for an all-party meet to ensure peace in Parliament prior to the Budget session. (PTI Photo)

In a rare move on his part, vice-president Hamid Ansari has called for an all-party meeting on Saturday, after a near-washout of successive parliamentary sessions crippled the functioning of the Rajya Sabha last year.

Ansari, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, will attempt to forge a consensus among political parties to allow the upper house to run smoothly in the upcoming Budget session where a long list of bills are pending.

The tussle between the ruling and Opposition parties has gained steam during the past few weeks after the suicide of Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, and the ongoing row in the national capital’s Jawaharlal Nehru University over allegations of sedition.

The vice president’s meeting comes barely three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited 31 party leaders and appealed to them to not disrupt the upcoming Parliament session.

Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said after the meeting that almost all parties had overwhelmingly favoured a smooth functioning of Parliament.

Ansari’s meeting assumes significance as the upper house, where the NDA government has a minority, has witnessed a plethora of disruptions over bills such as the Goods and Services Tax.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) , and Trinamool National Congress’ Derek O’Brien will be among those attending the meeting.

The vice president had earlier expressed disappointment over the repeated disruptions in the House. In the last session, Ansari had called upon leaders to “introspect” on its “state of affairs” and avoid “approaches that demean” the stature of the Rajya Sabha.

He had also called the 2015 winter session of the Rajya Sabha as being “singularly unproductive in terms of legislative work”.

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