NEW DELHI: The call for an all-party meeting by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu to find ways to end the Logjam in Parliament has put the Congress in a fix.
It remains undecided whether the party would attend or boycott the meeting on Monday. Unless a substantial number of parties are on board to back its stand, the Congress may end up looking like a lone ranger with only the Left for a company.
Not known to be much of a status-quo breaker, Sonia Gandhi, however, is not very comfortable about keeping Parliament in disarray for too long. But with the young brigade in the Lok Sabha convinced that the ‘Monsoon disruption’ is the best way to keep the focus on the party, she has little choice other than calling a core-committee meeting.
And that’s what she has done. By calling senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, her political secretary Ahmed Patel, Kapil Sibal and also Rahul Gandhi, she now wants to take a more reasoned view on the issue. Unable to attend Sunday’s core-committee meeting, A K Antony will give his views at the party’s parliamentary board meeting on Monday.
But the general consensus in the Congress seems to be that it will be seeking an intervention from Prime Minister. “Unless, the PM gives a substantive assurance (on the issue) of action, there’s no question of stepping back from our demand,” Azad said.
In the last two days, the government, however, has unleashed a no-hold-bar counter attack on the Congress. The Congress feels that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement in the Lok Sabha ‘dredging up Sushil Kumar Shinde’s Hindu terror remark’ is an “attempt to browbeat” the party into submission in Parliament. “It is a concerted effort to corner us on an emotive issue,” a former Congress MP from Telangana, who is close to Rahul Gandhi, said.
The MP also feels that two recent developments -- the Gurdaspur terror attack and the execution of 1993 Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon -- are “being indirectly used to polarise” sentiments. Anticipating a backlash, the Congress got P Chidambaram, a former Home Minister, to counter Singh’s ‘Hindu terror’ comment. “Sushil Kumar Shinde never made a statement in the House. He has said this at a convention in Jaipur, but was not in the way as is being used. Rajnath Singh should have confined himself to the Gurdaspur terror attack and not bring out a statement made out of Parliament,” Chidambaram said.
The young guns in the Lok Sabha, however, are not ready to back off.