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Lok Sabha advances discussion on JNU from Thursday

NEW DELHI(PTI): Lok Sabha advanced the discussion on the raging JNU row from Thursday to Wednesday, with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan deciding so amid a push by Congress and the willingness by the government.

Soon after Question Hour, Mahajan said the House would take up a short duration discussion on the functioning of universities in the country, including incidents at JNU and Hyderabad University, in the afternoon.

Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge along with two others had given notice of Adjournment Motion on the issue and the Speaker decided to go for the discussion on the issue on Wednesday.

This led to protests by other Opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress, CPI (M), CPI, BJD and TRS, who said that Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had proposed on Tuesday in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting that the discussion should be held on Thursday, February 25 after presentation of the Railway Budget.

They wanted to know what had happened between Tuesday and Wednesday that prompted such a drastic change.

Kharge said it would be good if the matter was taken up on Wednesday itself as the “issue is very important and discussions are going on everywhere“.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were present in the House when other Opposition parties opposed the move to have the discussion on Wednesday.

Kharge emphasised the point that the issue would lose its importance if it was taken up on Thursday for discussion. “Let it happen today itself,” he added.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said his priority was to run the House and that the government was ready for discussion anytime.

It was not a matter of prestige or protocol but only that if the discussion was taken up on Thursday, the (HRD) Minister concerned would not be able to reply as she would be in Rajya Sabha where the matter is scheduled to be discussed on Wednesday, Naidu said.

TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who had initially opposed the suggestion, then expressed readiness to go along with Congress saying it is the largest party in the Opposition.

Mahajan requested the Opposition members to agree to the discussion on Wednesday itself, which was agreed to by them.

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