NEW DELHI: With both the government and the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha showing no signs of relenting from their respective rigid stands, there appeared to be little chance of a meeting ground of ‘face-saver’ breaking the deadlock and rescuing the three days left of the winter session from being a washedout.
As both sides looked determined to turn it into a war of nerves in which each waited for the other to blink, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appearance in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday failed to have the desired calming effect on the Opposition.
The Opposition refused to be appeased with anything less than a statement from the PM on the religious conversion row and the government resolutely stuck to its stand that the Opposition cannot dictate terms or decide on its behalf who replies to a debate from the treasury benches.
While the Prime Minister was present in the Upper House during the Question Hour, the proceedings were mostly taken up by sparring matches between the Opposition and treasury benches over procedures of a debate on the recent communal incidents in the country.
Thursday is a day when questions related to the portfolios held by the PM are listed for reply. But an irate Opposition, united in numbers far ahead than the government side, continued to press its demand leading to repeated adjournments.
In the battle of nerves, Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was steadfast, “In this very House, the Prime Minister made a statement on request of Opposition... Three days after the Prime Minister’s statement, the House was not allowed to function...I repeat government’s (offer). If they want (discussion), let it start just now.”
Totally ruling out a reply by the Prime Minister, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that as per the rules, the Home Minister would reply after the debate as the issue related to his ministry. But almost the entire Opposition insisted on reply by the PM only.
At this point, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said: “The Prime Minister should reply” and he immediately got support from the Congress. JD-U leader Sharad Yadav too joined in to retort that since the PM was present, he should listen to views of members and then reply as there was “unease” outside as well as inside the House.
Joining in full measure, Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma said: “The Opposition is serious to end the deadlock...the Prime Minister is a good speaker...he should reply.”
Move to Legalise e-rickshaws
The Lok Sabha has passed a legislation to legalise e-rickshaws and provide for driving licences for the battery-operated vehicles, mostly plying in Delhi. The Bill will provide relief to thousands of e-rickshaw pliers, who could not run their rickshaws after a ban by the Delhi High Court.