Govt invites four opposition parties to discuss suspensions of 12 RS MPs today
The Union government has invited four Opposition parties — whose MPs are among the 12 Rajya Sabha lawmakers suspended for the entire winter session—for talks on Monday, but a section of the Opposition is sceptical about the outreach and wants an all-party meeting instead.
Leader of Opposition in the Upper House, Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday evening wrote a letter to parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi while terming the decision to invite just four parties as “unfair and unfortunate”.
The proposed meeting will be held at 10am on Monday at the Rajya Sabha leader Piyush Goyal’s office. However, the Opposition parties are meeting at 9.45am to take a final call on attending the meeting.
In the letter to Joshi, Kharge said, “All Opposition parties are united in the protest against the suspension of the 12 MPs. We have been requesting from the evening of November 29 itself that either the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha or the Leader of the House Piyush Goyal should call leaders of all Opposition parties for discussion to break the stalemate.”
“This reasonable request of ours has not been agreed to, further inviting only leaders of four Opposition parties instead of inviting leaders of all Opposition parties in unfair and unfortunate,” Kharge said in the letter, a copy of which is available with HT.
The Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Shiv Sena and Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been invited for the meeting. On November 29, when the winter session started, 12 MPs, including six from the Congress, two each from the TMC and Shiv Sena and one each from the CPI(M) and CPI were suspended for the entire session for their “unprecedented” acts of “misconduct” and “violent behaviour” during the monsoon session of Parliament in August.
Even as Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu has been regularly meeting Opposition leaders over the continuing logjam induced by the suspension, this is the government’s first formal approach to the Opposition parties in a bid for resolution. The government managers including Union minister Piyush Goyal and Pralhad Joshi have been asking for an apology from the Opposition parties to revoke the suspension.
However, the Opposition is sceptical of this new initiative with just four days left for the winter session.
TMC’s floor leader Derek O’Brien termed the government’s approach as “stunt”. “Monday morning STUNT from a Government who do not want #Parliament to function. Government calls leaders of the 4 Opposition parties whose 12 RS MPs have been arbitrarily suspended. Government leaves other 10 Opposition parties out. Failed stunt. Why govt is not calling all opposition parties?” he tweeted.
CPI(M)’s suspended MP Elamaram Kareem also flagged the absence of other parties and said, “Opposition would meet Monday morning to decide. But we wanted an all-party meeting while the government is offering to meet a select group of leaders.”
In a letter to Joshi, Kareem said, “Even now the action of the government is not sincere as the meeting is meant for only the floor leaders of the suspended MPs’ parties. As you are well aware the entire Opposition has been taking a unified stand on this suspension issue. If the government is sincere in resolving these issues, I would request you to convene the meeting of all the Opposition parties instead of calling only five parties.”
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh told HT, “We have already said no to the proposal.”
CPI’s Rajya Sabha member Binoy Viswam said, “Calling five parties for discussion... CPI will not subscribe for it.”
On December 15, in an otherwise heated discussion with four Opposition leaders, Naidu had observed that an all-party meeting will be called when it was appropriate. “It implied that a meeting would serve no purpose when either the suspended MPs or leaders of their respective parties are not willing to reflect on their conduct and regret the same in an appropriate manner,” said a Rajya Sabha official, requesting anonymity.