Bid to end logjam fails, Congress disrupts Parliament for fourth straight dayindia Updated: Dec 21, 2017 23:09 IST
Opposition members protest inside the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi on Thursday during the ongoing winter session of Parliament. (PTI Photo)
A formula to end the logjam between the Congress and the BJP in Parliament failed on Thursday as the opposition party continued to disrupt proceedings over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks about his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Pakistani leaders.
Top sources told HT that the two parties had reached an understanding at an informal meeting chaired by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday. Under the agreement, finance minister Arun Jaitley was to make a statement followed by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. It was expected to give a face-saver to both the sides to end the stalemate, with the ruling party categorically rejecting the Congress’ demand for an apology or clarification from Modi.
Sources claimed that the Congress went back on the understanding on Thursday and demanded that the PM come to the House and clarify his comments.
The biggest casualty of the ongoing tirade was cricket icon Sachin Teldunkar’s maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha. The former cricketer tried to speak a few times but his speech was drowned out amid non-stop slogans from the Congress benches. Sources told HT that Tendukar’s notice was still alive and Naidu would allot him time the next week when the House resumes after the Christmas break.
In the Lok Sabha, visibly agitated Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia led the protests, alleging that his party was not being given time to raise the issue and reiterating the party’s demand for an apology from Modi. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan denied permission to Congress MPs to raise the matter. “Where is justice?... Give us a minute (to speak),” he said. “What is the meaning of being an MP? This government doesn’t want to listen (to) us, this government doesn’t want to listen to the people’s voice,” Scindia said.
He also took a swipe at the ruling party, saying they want to listen to only “Mann ki Baat”, referring to Modi’s monthly radio address. Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi was seen thumping the desk when Scindia was speaking amid the din.
“Give the Opposition a chance. Don’t deprive us of our rights. You have to give us time. You have to listen (to) us. Without listening, you are pushing us to the gallows,” he said.
As the Speaker continued with the Question Hour, Scindia persisted with his demand. “It is a serious issue, the allegation was against an ex-Prime Minister, an ex-Vice President and ex-army chief,” he said as several Congress MPs went into the well of the House to raise slogans . They later staged a walkout.
The BJP attacked the opposition party, saying the Congress has lost its “direction and plot”.
Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said, “The Congress today behaved in an undemocratic manner in the Upper House by disrupting Bharat Ratna Sachin Tendulkar from speaking on the important and non-political issue of sports and its development in the country.”