NEW DELHI: A day ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament, the Opposition raised issues of unemployment, polls in Jammu and Kashmir, farm distress and drought with the government at an all-party meeting.
The Congress demanded discussions on all issues in Parliament while asserting that the fight of ideology with the BJP is still on.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress lawmakers Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, K Suresh, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Trinamool leader Derek O'Brien were present at the meeting.
The Women’s Reservation Bill also was among the Opposition’s demands with Trinamool’s Sudip Bandopadhyay and O’Brien calling for the bill to be listed and passed in the upcoming session.
The Opposition also collectively raised concerns about the weakening of federalism and said that deliberate attempt to target states was not acceptable.
“We congratulated the government. But with that we also told them that this is a fight of ideologies. It was a fight of ideologies and it will remain so,” Azad said.
The Congress leader said his party is the foundation of secular forces and will always work to keep that spirit alive whether it is in government or in opposition.
“Even when out of power, we will continue to work for the upliftment of farmers, labourers and women. We also said that there are some issues that the government should pay attention to such as those of the farmers, drought, lack of drinking water and massive unemployment in the country,” Azad said.
The muzzling of the press was also one of the issues that were raised by Congress.
“We also raised the issue of freedom of press. The behaviour of ruling party workers towards journalists was also raised. They (journalists) are being beaten and efforts are being made to muzzle their voice. We condemn that and urged the government to look into it,” Azad said.
Speaking on the extension of President’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir and on the issue of the pending Assembly polls in the state, Azad said his party told the government that there was no need of President’s rule in the state.
“Lok Sabha elections were also held in Jammu and Kashmir recently and even they were conducted peacefully. So, when panchayat and parliamentary polls can be conducted, why not state polls?” he said.
The Trinamool, on the other hand, raised the issue of electoral reforms, including state funding of elections and the restoration paper ballots.