Major opposition parties have buried their differences to organise a sit-in at the Parliament complex on Friday in an unprecedented show of unity against the NDA government and “their voice being stifled in the Lok Sabha”.
The Congress, the Trinamool Congress, the Left parties and the Aam Aadmi Party are part of the mega protest, with socialist stalwarts like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad — who are busy shaping the Janata Parivar merger — expected to attend.
As a symbolic gesture, the protesters will wear black badges, sources said. Parties have individually held demonstrations near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament over different issues in the past, but this will be the first joint protest where arch-rivals like the Congress and AAP or the Left and Trinamool will sit together.
“This protest is not about any individual party as the entire Opposition’s voice is being stifled in the Lok Sabha,” Trinamool’s parliamentary party chief Sudip Bandopadhyay told HT.
Opposition sources said they wanted Prime Minister Modi to make a statement in the Lok Sabha on Union minister Niranjan Jyoti’s invective-laden comments, which would establish their clout in the Lower House where they are in a minority.
“The Lok Sabha is not about the majority members and their wishes. Plus, we also want to hear what the PM has to say about his minister’s provocative comments,” said CPI(M) leader MB Rajesh.
Government sources, however, said the Congress breached an informal arrangement to resume Parliament proceedings on Thursday following the PM’s statement in Rajya Sabha.
“There is a possibility that normalcy may return to Parliament from next week,” said an opposition leader, adding that a section within the Opposition did not want prolonged disruptions.
Government sources hinted that if the situation demands and the commotion continues throughout the session, it may push some bills even amid the din.
The Opposition’s decision to up the ante comes despite Modi telling Rajya Sabha that he “strongly disapproved” of Jyoti’s remarks.
“At the meeting of party MPs, I had strongly disapproved the use of such language. I urge people to stay away from such language even during the heated election debates. Following this, the minister who is new and a first-time member of Parliament, her background is known to all, had apologised,” he said.
The PM’s appeal for peace yielded little result as disruptions continued in the Upper House while the Opposition stuck to its boycott and walkout strategies in the Lok Sabha.