Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention fails to break Parliament logjam

New Delhi: Notwithstanding, prime minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in Rajya Sabha, pleading for forgiving Minister of state Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, the stalemate continued, with the treasury benches and the Opposition exchanging barbs. After a series of meetings, behind closed doors to salvage the winter session of parliament, sources said even as the opposition had rescinded from its original position of demanding sacking and registration of case against the minister for making hate-speech, the government was averse to the idea of adopting a unanimous resolution condemning Jyoti’s statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention fails to break Parliament logjam

The government said, the prime minister’s statement was enough and matter be declared closed. At stake are key legislations, including the insurance and coal blocks amendment bills, which may not be passed in the wake of a stand-off. The government is trapped especially hard in Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority.

Even while Modi came forward with a statement in the Rajya Sabha to break the stalemate, the issue also created heat in the Lok Sabha with the opposition led by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge seeking the PM’s statement in their House too. It even alleged that the government was using its “brute majority” to stifle its voice, a charge denied by the ruling side.

Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu ruled out any change in the government’s stand that the minister would not be removed. “We have already made our stand very clear. There is no question of the minister resigning or removing the minister. The minister has expressed regret and offered apology in both the houses of Parliament. The issue was closed then and there itself,” he said.

The Congress and Trinamool Congress members stormed in the Lok Sabha well but the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan continued with the question hour even in the din. Members of both the parties ultimately walked out accusing her of being partisan and working under the ruling BJP’s pressure.

In the Rajya Sabha, leader of House Arun Jaitley said all past three days the opposition was condemning the prime minister for not coming to the House to clarify his stand on the minister faulted for using foul language in a BJP poll rally in Delhi and since Modi has now made the statement, the House should be allowed to get on to its business.

Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma jumped to his feet as soon as Modi finished his brief intervention to assert that the entire opposition is united that the prime minister should take strong action against the minister as the Constitution does not permit such utterances.

Modi told the House that he had taken strong exception to the Sadhvi’s remarks and warned all BJP MPs to be careful in the public utterances. He said she has already apologised and hence the House should better gracefully accept that and carry forward its business in national interest.

A united Opposition in Lok Sabha is planning to wear black bands and stage a dharna before the Gandhi statue in Parliament premises to protest against attitude of the government after staging a walk out from the House.

At a meeting on Thursday, the parties– Congress, CPM, CPI, TMC, AAP, BJD, IUML, SP and Kerala Congress– decided to demand that the prime minister make a statement in the Lower House. Government sources the ruling side would be open to the demand and the prime minister had already made a statement in the Upper House.

Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien even offered to allow a short-duration discussion on the issue before adjourning the House for the day as the Opposition members kept protesting from the well.

An idea to adopt a unanimous resolution condemning Jyoti’s statement without naming her also did not broke ice. Sources said at the meeting of all party leaders, conducted by deputy chairman, the government representatives reportedly indicated the resolution must include objectionable statements made in the past by other politicians, including Congress leader Sonia Gandhi who, ahead of the state election in Gujarat in 2007, alluded to Modi, then the chief minister of the state, as “the merchant of death.”

The government main concern is to seek passage of the Insurance Amendment Bill, and the coal blocks amendment Bill. The Insurance bill which aims to increase the foreign investment in the sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent, is currently with a Rajya Sabha select committee, which is to submit its report by December 12.The coal blocks amendment Bill, which will replace a Presidential ordinance, was passed by the Cabinet on Tuesday and needs Parliamentary approval.