Parliament logjam: Government may call meeting with opposition

New Delhi, July 30 (IANS) The BJP and the Congress on Thursday targeted each other over the parliament logjam, as the government indicated it could convene a meeting with the opposition to break the impasse.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday accused the Congress of “petty political interest” and said it was not allowing discussion on the Dinanagar terror attack in parliament.

He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi should come forward and clear her party’s stand on the issue.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the Narendra Modi-government had not reached out to the opposition over its demand for the resignations of three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders embroiled in controversies over the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues.

Kharge, who addressed media persons after a meeting of different parties in the Lok Sabha convened by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, hit out at the BJP-led government and said it was the duty of the treasury benches to break the logjam in parliament.

“Till the time the government takes an initiative, the house will not function normally,” Kharge said.

Proceedings in the two houses have been repeatedly disrupted since the start of the monsoon session on July 21 over the Congress demand on the resignations.

The party is demanding the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje for their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi and of Madhya Pradesh Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the Vyapam scam.

Kharge said the Congress and some other parties were insisting on the resignations of the three leaders in accordance with the tactics adopted by the BJP in the past.

He said the BJP said in 2010 and 2012 that there should be “resignations (of ministers in the then UPA government) first and discussions later”.

Kharge said BJP leaders, including Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, said in the past that “causing disruption was part and parcel of democratic process and is a pressure tactic”.

“We are adopting the same tactic. The tradition you have set, we are following that. The government should do its duty,” Kharge said.

Kharge, who was accompanied by leaders of the Nationalist Congress Party and the Aam Aadmi Party, said: “They (government) are not taking an initiative. They don’t want to tackle the problem. It is left to them,” he said.

“Now (the matter) is left to the government. The ball is in their court,” Kharge said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was present at the meeting, indicated that the BJP-led NDA government would try to call a meeting and resolve the parliament impasse.

The Modi government has already ruled out the resignations of the three BJP leaders.

Jaitley, in his attack on the Congress earlier in the day, alleged that the main opposition party was not allowing a discussion on Monday’s terror attack in Gurdaspur district of Punjab in which seven civilians and security personnel were killed.

Is petty politics more important for them than national security,” Jaitley questioned. Can’t she (Sonia Gandhi) instruct her party members to be united on the issues of national interest,” he said.

Congress members in the Rajya Sabha raised anti-government slogans as the home minister read out a statement on the Dinanagar terror attack around 2 p.m. The house was soon after adjourned for the day.

“The home minister was to make a statement on the terror attack in Gurdaspur…it’s a major statement as the attack from across the border has re-occurred after a long time and is important for the parliament to discuss it,” he said.

“On a day when the country should have spoken in one voice, we did not expect the Congress to present India as a divided house,” he said.

“Instead of making national security its priority, they (Congress) have made politics their priority…. Even on the execution of death sentence given to 1993 Mumbal blast convict Yakub Memon, their leaders are speaking in different voices,” Jaitley said.

Referring to the Congress demand for the resignations of BJP leaders, he said the opposition party had staged a symbolic protest for about two weeks. “Therefore, now it is about time that parliament is allowed to function.”

In an interview to a TV channel, Jaitley said “Congress MPs have become captive of the ill-advice of their leaders.”

He said that the Congress strategy was “harming the country’s interests”.

The union minister also said that the Congress was feeling “isolated” on the issue and accused it of “going directionless”.

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