Parliament impasse: Govt insists on debate, Cong blames PM

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2015 21:15 IST
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and opposition MPs with black bands on their arms at Parliament house during the monsoon session in New Delhi on Monday. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)

The government on Sunday charged the opposition with "negativism" and "obstructionism" while the Congress hit back by questioning the sincerity of the ruling side to break the impasse in Parliament, a day before the all-party meeting on the issue.

With half of the Monsoon session virtually washed out, the government said the "honourable exit" for the Congress would be to have a debate on the issue concerning external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj's "help" to Lalit Modi.

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who addressed a press conference at BJP headquarters, however, made it clear that the Vyapam scam of Madhya Pradesh, in which chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is under attack, cannot be discussed at all as it concerns a state.

The government has convened an all-party meeting on Monday to discuss ways to end the stalemate in Parliament.

Attacking Congress, finance minister Arun Jaitley said the party may be upset with the government for "political reasons" but it must "accept and seriously introspect" that "negativism" and its "obstructionist tendencies" would hurt the country and the economy.

His attack in a facebook post came in the context of the ambitious Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill which is among the reform measures stuck as Parliament is unable to function because of relentless opposition demand for resignation of Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje in Lalit Modi and ouster of Chouhan over Vyapam scam.

Parliamentary affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also ruled out any resignation and maintained that there can be a debate in which the opposition can express its views.

He insisted that neither Swaraj nor Raje had done anything illegal or unethical that they should resign. Raje was not even chief minister at that time, he added.

"We want to accommodate the opposition... Let us have a discussion... If they want to express their point of view, we are ready," Naidu said.

Reacting sharply, Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "the unwarranted, uncharitable and provocative statement by the finance minister and BJP, accussing Congress of disruption makes it abundantly clear that the government is neither serious nor sincere in breaking the deadlock in Parliament."

"The blame of Parliament's not functioning lies squarely with the Prime Minister for his arrogance and obduracy," Sharma said in a statement.

The Congress leader said it was "ironical that Arun Jaitley is asking the Congress to reflect whereas as per the government's own claim is that the Parliament has transacted more business in the last one year as compared to the previous 10 years.

"The credit for the Parliament work and clearing important legislative work in the last one year belongs to the responsible and mature opposition whereas the blame for the derailment of the legislative business in the previous 10 long years lies with the BJP."

The former union minister asked Jaitley and BJP "not to give patronizing sermons to the Congress but to collectively reflect and apologise for their own conduct while in opposition."

He said, "It is the responsibility of the Congress and the opposition to unmask the duplicity of the Prime Minister and the BJP to expose their hypocrisy, double speak and double standard on propriety, probity and the accountability.

"The Congress party is resolute and duty-bound to ensure accountability for acts of commission, omission and abuse of office and gross impropriety."

Dubbing Congress as "confused", Sitharaman said earlier Congress demanded a debate on the Lalit Modi issue. But when the government agreed to immediately "and to the shock of Congress", they demanded that the resignations should come first and only then would they participate in a debate.

She claimed that Congress has put itself in an "untenable position" and has "pushed itself against the wall" by demanding resignations of Swaraj, Raje and Chauhan.

The minister also sought to drive a wedge in the opposition unity by claiming that while Congress is disrupting Parliamentary proceedings other opposition parties are looking forward to a debate on important issues in the House.

At the same time, she said the government has no intent to "divide" the opposition and wants everybody on board.

With regard to Vyapam scam, she said Parliament rules do not permit debate on state issues.

However, she said "rules can be changed" if members want so as she contended that "there are other members, who want a debate on (Congress-ruled) Kerala solar scam or the (Himachal Pradesh's Congress chief minister) Virbhadra Singh corruption issue", in an apparent bid to nail the Congress.

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