Faced with the daunting task of avoiding the washout of another Parliament session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to the Opposition on Tuesday, urging them to participate in debates even if it is to “amply criticise” and find “faults” of the government.
Later, he engaged Opposition leaders in a freewheeling interaction on the floor of the Lok Sabha, asking them to allow the House to function.
Minutes before the Budget session started, Modi told the media, “I hope the House will be utilised for debate and discussions. The government should be amply criticised. Its faults should be exposed.” The PM’s comments come after weeks of intense Opposition criticism over a range of issues, including the JNU row, a Dalit scholar’s suicide and the Pathankot terror attack.
The PM also informally interacted with different party leaders on the floor of the Lok Sabha after it was adjourned. Modi told the Congress that their concerns have been addressed, warmly greeted Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and Biju Janata Dal leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, held CPI(M) MP Md Selim’s hand and asked TMC’s Sudip Bandopadhyay to “control” his MPs.
Most leaders responded positively, saying they want Parliament to function. The PM could not talk to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Both leaders left the House in a hurry before Modi could come near the Congress benches.
The PM’s willingness to reach out to the Opposition left many leaders surprised. Last week, he held a rare meeting with the Opposition leaders before the Budget session.
“In the initial few sessions of this Lok Sabha, the PM was very stiff and didn’t bother to interact with the Opposition. After Bihar election defeat, his attitude towards the Opposition has changed,” said Md Selim.