Congress is running away from a debate on banking irregularities: Ananth Kumar

The government agreed to discuss any government business after the debate on banking irregularities. It was a surprise that the Congress went back on its promise and asked for debate under rule 56 (adjournment motion)... The Opposition is running away from a debate, said Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2018 22:50 IST
Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Congress debate,Ananth Kumar,Banking irregularities
Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said every regional party tries to raise issues relating to their state. The real issue is the Congress’ refusal to let the House function and debate banking irregularities. (HT File Photo)

Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar on Tuesday accused the Congress of shifting goalposts, running away from debate and stalling proceedings in both houses, as the government came under attack over the suspected fraud at Punjab National Bank by jewellery designer Nirav Modi. Inan interview, Kumar said the government had nothing to hide in the matter and was ready to debate the issue threadbare.

Why has the government not been able to end the stalemate in Parliament?

Three senior members of the Congress — Mallikarjun Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia and KC Venogopal — gave a notice under rule 193 two days ago for a debate on banking irregularities, and the speaker accepted it. The matter was also discussed in the business advisory committee of the Lok Sabha. The Opposition demanded that the debate happen before any other business of the House is taken up. We agreed to it and it was decided that a debate will take place under rule 193 (short duration discussion) at noon, immediately after the question hour and before a discussion on demands for grants. We agreed to discuss any government business after the debate on banking irregularities. We were surprised to note that Congress went back on its promise and asked for debate under rule 56 (adjournment motion). They did not say this earlier. The Opposition is running away from a debate.

The Congress is accusing the government of changing the language of the resolution of the debate?

When there are different notices on one subject, a common phraseology is brought so that it encompasses everything. It is the prerogative of the speaker. The wording of the 193 debate that was to happen today said “Shri NK Premchandran and Shri KC Venugopal to raise a discussion on alleged systemic irregularities in banking sector over the years and its impact on India economy”. This formulation is more comprehensive. The Congress suddenly got a reservation with the “over the years” mention...why do you want to restrict the discussion to a certain period? The Congress clearly doesn’t want a discussion to happen. They have many skeletons in the cupboard. Therefore they are scared and running away. Banking irregularities...happened in 10 years of UPA (United Progressive Alliance) rule. The Narendra Modi government is probing all those scams, arresting the culprits and recovering money from them. This is like Swachh Bharat (Clean India) on the economic front. There should be a whole debate on the issue and I urge the Congress party to participate in a debate tomorrow.

Will you accept change of rule as demanded by the Congress?

The change in Congress stand is surprising. They made this change today. When minister of state for parliamentary affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal and BJP’s chief whip Rakesh Singh met Kharge and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi this morning, they did not speak about their problem with a debate under 193. The change in their stand surprises me. Day before yesterday, why did they ask for a debate under 193?

Other Opposition parties and some of your allies, too, are agitating on different issues. How do you deal with them?

Every regional party tries to raise issues relating to their state in every session of Parliament. We are talking to them and their issues can be sorted out. That is not an issue. The real issue is the Congress’ refusal to let the House function and debate banking irregularities.

Do you foresee a washout of the second leg of the budget session?

Even when the first half of the budget session started, people said it will be a washout. The Lok Sabha’s performance was 134% and the Rajya Sabha’s 96%. I am hopeful that the second leg of the budget session will also be a success.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 22:50 IST