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Ministers, Opposition exchange barbs over disruptions during Winter Session of Parliament

The winter session of Parliament ended on December 22, a day before the scheduled conclusion, due to protest by opposition parties
Union minister for parliamentary affairs Pralhad Joshi during the winter session of parliament, in New Delhi on December 16. (PTI)
Updated on Dec 25, 2021 01:50 AM IST
ByRisha Chitlangia, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Two days after the acrimonious winter session came to an end, the Opposition and the government continued to trade barbs over disruptions that wasted 52% of the allotted time of the Rajya Sabha and 19% of the Lok Sabha.

“It is both astonishing and saddening that members of the Opposition, especially senior members of the Congress party, have deviated from the well-known truth about what transpired in the recently concluded session, in the Rajya Sabha,” parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said in a statement.

The winter session of Parliament ended on December 22, a day before the scheduled conclusion, due to protest by opposition parties demanding removal of minister of state for home affairs Ajay Mishra Teni, whose son Ashish is an accused in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, and against the suspension of 12 Opposition MPs from the Rajya Sabha.

Joshi said, “The Opposition appeared committed to hampering the running of the House. The public of our country and even history is witness to the level of noise and indiscipline the Opposition has made a kind of practice to bring to the sittings of the House.”

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The senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader accused the Opposition of trying to “use every means to not let the House proceedings carry on. It was painful when some members of the Opposition reduced the temple of democracy to a theatre of street fight.”

On Thursday, senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh had said that Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu used to “adjourn the House under pressure of the government”.

On Friday, Joshi said that senior Congress leaders such as Ramesh tried to create an “opposite narrative” by “casting aspersions on the functioning of a constitutional authority, the chairman of the Rajya Sabha” and said the Congress leader by doing so did a “disfavour not only to the truth, but to democracy itself”.

Minutes later, Ramesh retorted, “I hope the mention of my name in Shri Prahlad Joshi’s statement defending an unconstitutional and illegal suspension of 12 MPs is not a prelude to my suspension for the forthcoming budget session. This regime is capable of anything and most of all is simply not interested in any meaningful discussion on pressing national issues.”

“And as far as Joshi’s accusation is concerned, I have always believed respect has to commanded, not demanded,” he added.

Joshi said a “deeply pained” chairman “reached out to the Opposition to break the stalemate”.

The minister accused the Opposition of “coming back in multiple voices which were unclear and contradictory at the same time”.

“Duplicitousness was obvious beneath some weak conciliatory overtures. When the chairman reached out in a concrete manner, the response proved that the intention beneath the conciliatory talk was that the House does not run,” the minister said.

Union minister and leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha, Piyush Goyal, said the Opposition should introspect on the “uncivilised” behaviour of MPs who “attacked marshals, including women, in Parliament”.

“Opposition must introspect on uncivilised behaviour of MPs who attacked marshals, including women in Parliament, & their unregretful, totally obstructive response to honest, sincere efforts of Govt. & Chairman Shri @MVenkaiahNaidu ji to resolve the issue,” Goyal tweeted.

Hitting out at the opposition parties, Union housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who is also the minister for petroleum, said, “The Opposition didn’t allow Parliament to work. There were several issues which had to be discussed such as price rise and the government was ready to discuss them. But they didn’t let the discussion happen.”

Taking a dig at the Congress, BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said, “They neither know how to run a government nor act like a responsible Opposition.”

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