Some Opposition parties led by the Congress on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarify his position on the land bill before a joint parliamentary committee, leading to furious protests from the BJP.
The latest demand, seen as a calculated move of the Congress to embarrass the NDA government on the issue, came almost three months after the PM said in his Mann ki Baat address that the contentious ordinance of his government’s proposed land law would not be re-promulgated.
At a meeting of the joint parliamentary committee on the land bill on Monday, Congress leader KV Thomas, the Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien and some other members argued the PM had only spoken outside Parliament, in his radio programme, and must clarify his long-term plans on the bill before the panel.
While the government did not push the land ordinance amid all-round protests, the bill is still lying before Parliament. Before Monday’s meeting, Thomas had a discussion with party president Sonia Gandhi on the issue.
Ironically, first-time BJP MP Krishna Raj made things easier for the Congress when she said the PM’s remarks in Parliament should be considered and not his Mann ki Baat comments. As panel chairman Surinder Ahluwalia echoed the sentiment, Congress, Trinamool and TRS members demanded the PM be requested to appear before the panel.
While a furious BJP argued the PM could not be asked to come for a panel meeting, O’Brien cited parliamentary rules and Congress leaders pointed out that former PM Manmohan Singh had offered to depose before the JPC on 2G spectrum.
The panel also decided to request for an extension of its term. It may ask for time till the end of the winter session of Parliament to submit a report on the land bill.