New Delhi: The escalating row over the JNU issue today found an echo at a meeting of political parties called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with opposition leaders speaking against the sedition case slapped on the arrested student leader and government asserting that slogans raised by students were “highly objectionable”.
The government said it is open to debating the JNU row in Parliament during the upcoming Budget Session starting February 23 with Modi saying that it will address the concerns raised by the opposition.
Modi said during the meeting as opposition parties raised a host of issues that he was Prime minister not only of BJP but the entire country, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told the media after the over two-hour meeting.
Today’s parleys were the first-ever meeting of political parties convened by Modi ahead of a Parliament session.
“We will respond to the issues raised by the opposition and address them… I hope the congenial mood here will be translated into action in Parliament,” Modi told the meeting.
Naidu said there was a general consensus that Parliament should run smoothly.With BJP targeting Congress over its support to “anti-nationals” in the JNU row, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said his party “disassociates” with all such students who shouted slogans attacking India’s unity and Constitution but insisted that there was no proof of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar, the arrested JNU Student Union president.
“There is no proof of sedition against him,” he said.He also hit out at BJP leaders for “defaming” the party leadership with their “anti-national” jibe and said the government should restrain them.
Azad told the media that the atmosphere in the country has been vitiated since the BJP came to power and its government has taken no action against people responsible for it.
Naidu shared the opposition leaders’ concern over use of terms like “anti-national” and also spoke about ‘Hitler’ jibe made at the Prime Minister as he noted that all parties should show restraint.
“Government will discuss every issue under rule. We have no objections. Government is willing to walk the extra mile… Let there be an open debate about what happened in JNU, the posters used there… Some said cops should not have gone there. The mood was very good and cordial.
“It was also said that a section of media is blowing things out of proportion,” he said. The meeting also saw Trinamool Congress pushing for the passage of the GST bill, Naidu said.
JD(U) Chief Sharad Yadav said Parliament must run and all issues debated there. Azad, joined by senior party leader Anand Sharma, claimed that his party was always of the view that bills should be passed on merit but if there is a stalemate in Parliament, then the government must find out the reasons and address them.
“If people holding the constitutional positions are vitiating the atmosphere in the country, then it will find a reflection in Parliament. Had action been taken against them, then many things which we see today would not be happening,” he said.
Defending Kanhaiya, Azad said he did not speak against the Constitution and the country’s integrity. “His arrest on the sedition charge is unfair… Action should also have been taken against those who vitiated the country’s atmosphere.”
Congress leaders also spoke about a Dalit scholar’s suicide in the Hyderabad Central University and “pressure” brought to bear on him allegedly at the behest of ABVP, the student wing of BJP. Arunachal Pradesh Governor’s decisions leading to the imposition of President’s Rule was also raised.
Asked about his party’s stand on the GST bill, Azad said the bill was not under discussion in the meeting.
Naidu said the customary all party meeting ahead of the session will take place on February 22 in which bills and other issues related to the Session will be discussed.
Azad welcomed Modi’s move to invite leaders of various parties for the meeting.
Naidu said all parties spoke in one voice that Parliament should function.
“Frustration is rising among people due to stalemate in Parliament… Issues are not being debated,” he said.
In a veiled dig at Congress, he said the opposition party spoke about the atmosphere in the country but other parties said there should be no “ifs and buts” and Parliament should function.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explained the government’s stand on the JNU row and spoke about the slogans and posters related to the controversial event, calling them highly objectionable.