NEW DELHI (TIP): While Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 4 said he strongly disapproved of Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti’s controversial remarks, his attempt to buy peace in Parliament failed to fructify with a determined Congress-led Opposition refusing to relent on its demand for her ouster. The Opposition is likely to continue to disrupt both Houses until the minister is sacked from Modi’s Council of Ministers.
As Modi broke his silence on sadhvi’s remarks, apparently after an agreement with the main Opposition party Congress that the working of Houses would not be disrupted after his statement, mood in the Opposition benches remained belligerent, especially in the Rajya Sabha. BJP, sources said, was unhappy with the about turn by the Congress, especially after the statement from the Prime Minister, and was bracing itself for the future course of action.
With the Opposition stalling proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for past three days, Modi appeared in the Upper House after the first round of disruption this morning and appealed to the members to allow the House to function in national interest as sadhvi had already apologised. “I was informed about the statement which caused the controversy on the day BJP Parliamentary Party was to meet. In the meeting, I strongly disapproved of the remarks and I said we should avoid using such language,” he said. In election heat, he said, leaders should avoid using such language. Modi said after the minister’s apology the matter should rest and the House resume its normal functioning.
The Prime Minister said sadhvi was a first-time minister and a new Member of Parliament and the House should show magnanimity by accepting her apology. “When the minister has apologised, I appeal and request the House (to resume normal business)… In national interest, we must carry forward work (of the House),” he said, adding members should maintain decorum. Modi said he shared the view that after the minister’s apology, the matter should be considered closed.
As soon as the Prime Minister sat down, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu stood up and said: “In view of the Prime Minister’s statement, I request the House should be allowed to function.” But the request from the Prime Minister and Naidu went unheeded as Opposition members continued to press for sadhvi’s resignation, forcing the adjournment of the House. Firm on cornering the government, the Opposition leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss their future strategy.
There are clear indications that the Rajya Sabha will not function tomorrow. Opposition leaders indicated they might push for a resolution in Parliament denouncing sadhvi’s remarks against non-Hindus as a compromise formula considering the PM is against her resignation. The suggestion was made by Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress MPs at a meeting presided over by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari. While the government rejected the suggestion, Deputy Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said the matter was being debated. “The suggestion came and we will see how it goes,” he said.
Sharma said 10 Opposition leaders, including those of the TMC, SP, JD-U and CPM will meet tomorrow to discuss the matter. The Biju Janata Dal, the Indian National Lok Dal, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the AIADMK and the YRS Congress are, however, not participating in the Opposition protest with BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab saying: “It’s a dead issue after the minister has apologised.” As soon as the House met for the day, the entire Opposition was on its feet seeking Jyoti’s ouster.
As Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien asked ministers to lay the listed papers, Congress members trooped into the well. Protests continued even after he took up zero hour mentions, which led to repeated adjournments. When the House met at noon for question hour, the protests continued, forcing the Chairman to adjourn the House till 2 pm. Ansari said it was “unbecoming” of members to keep disrupting the proceedings. Disruptions continued in the Lok Sabha too with the Opposition, led by the Congress, demanding Modi’s statement on sadhvi’s remarks.
The House was disrupted for more than an hour but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan continued with the question hour amid the din. Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge hinted that the Speaker was under pressure not to allow the Opposition have its say in Lok Sabha.
Opposition may push resolution denouncing minister’s remarks
Firm on cornering the government over Union Minister sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s controversial remarks against non-Hindus, the Opposition leaders will meet here tomorrow to discuss their future strategy after successfully stalling the Rajya Sabha for two days. The Lok Sabha too, though functional, has been discharging business without the participation of the Opposition whose leaders walked out again today in protest over the PM’s refusal to make a statement on the issue.
Barring the BJD, INLD, TRS, AIADMK and YRS Congress, most other Opposition leaders from the Lok Sabha will stage a protest outside Parliament tomorrow demanding the PM’s response in the House. Leaders of 10 Opposition parties from the Rajya Sabha will meet tomorrow with sources indicating they might press for a parliamentary resolution denouncing Jyoti’s remarks as a compromise formula.
The suggestion is said to have been made today by the SP and the TMC at a meeting called by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to resolve the impasse. Though the government is learnt to have rejected it there, the Opposition didn’t rule out demanding the same if not a resignation by the minister. “The suggestion had come but it was not made by me. We will see how it goes. Let the government come out with a solution,” said Anand Sharma, Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
Further slamming the BJP as a serial offender on the issue of polarisation, Sharma hinted that the deadlock would continue until the government came up with a plan to end it. “The government hasn’t expressed intentions to talk. And there is no truth in the assertion that the Opposition had any deal with them and that the PM’s statement in the Rajya Sabha today was part of that deal,” the Congress leader said.