NEW DELHI: Even as the BJP-led government has called an all party meeting to resolve the impasse in the parliament following Congress’ demands of resignations of ruling party leaders, both sides continued with their sharp attacks on each other.
While, the government also appeared to soften its stance by agreeing that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi can intervene during discussion in the house, the Congress does not appear to give in as yet. BJP said the “face-saver” before the Congress would be accept discussion, as no resignations would come about.
Before the all party meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi will hold a meeting of party MPs to articulate their strategy and stance.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu gave a hint of what the government was willing to concede. "We are ready to discuss any issue at any length...if there is a discussion, and if it warrants, the Prime Minister can intervene, always. He has intervened earlier also," Naidu said ahead of the Monday’s meeting.
Earlier, the government had maintained that even PM would not intervene in any discussion as Congress’ demands were not reasonable.
But sensing that Congress may not yet to ready for a climb down, the BJP also fielded its two senior ministers to attack the opposition for “hurting economy” with their continued disruptions.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is anchoring the crucial reform bill GST, in a scathing attack on the Congress accused it of "obstructionist tendencies" and negativism.
“The Congress Party and its leader may be upset with the government for political reasons. They may be upset with the electorate for the 2014 verdict. The Congress Party should accept and seriously introspect after having ruled the country for the longest period of time, that negativism hurts the country.”
“Should its obstructionist tendencies inflict an economic injury on the country?” Jaitley said in the article countering Congress’ objections to the the GST bill, even though the bill was brought by the previous government. Finance Minister gave a point by point rebuttal of the Congress’ objections to the bill.
BJP leader and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Congress has by maintaining a untenable position of demanding resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje over Lalit Modi controversy, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan over Vyapam scam, it has pushed itself against the wall.
“The position of the Congress keeps changing. They are confused and want every debate outside parliament. The confusion created by the Congress is prevailing and people of India are being denied a meaningful parliament session. When offered a debate, they run away... come up with new demands," Sitharaman said during a press conference at BJP’s headquarters.
Blaming Congress president, Sitharaman said, "If this session gets washed out, Sonia Gandhi will have to take the blame."
Sitharaman also said that Prime Minister could intervene during the discussion only if the opposition agreed to debate in the house. "There have been five instances in the last one year when the prime minister (Modi) has spoken on important issues. He has intervened as and when critical debates have taken place," she said.
The Congress hit back. Congress leader Anand Sharma reacting to BJP statements said, “The blame of Parliament’s not functioning lies squarely with the Prime Minister for his arrogance and obduracy.”
Asking BJP not to give patronising sermons as they themselves had disrupted the proceedings while in opposition, Sharma said, "the unwarranted, uncharitable and provocative statement by the Finance Minister and BJP, accussing Congress of disruption makes it abundantly clear that the government is neither serious nor sincere in breaking the deadlock in Parliament."
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said that Congress will not "budge" on its demand for resignation of BJP leaders.
With the logjam continuing in the parliament, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said the government was mulling an option of 'no work, no pay' policy on MPs like it was done for the
As his statement led to a controversy, Sharma retracted saying he was not authorised to make such a suggestion as it fell in the purview of Speaker and his ministerial colleagues.
However, Sharma’s comments triggered reactions from the opposition parties. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said when UPA government had mooted a similar proposal the BJP then as an opposition party had opposed it.
CPI leader D Raja asked whether this is Sharma's individual suggestion or represents the government's view.