NEW DELHI: Stage is set for Monday’s all-party meeting to resolve the Parliament impasse. But the war of words between the ruling BJP and Opposition Congress continued on Sunday.
For a change, the government seemed to have softened its stance a bit by agreeing that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi could intervene during discussion in the House. But the Congress seemed to look the other way.
Earlier, the government had maintained that even the PM would not intervene in any discussion as demands put forth by the Congress were unreasonable.
The BJP on Sunday said the face saver for the Congress would be to accept a discussion, as resignation of Ministers was not going to happen.
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,” he said.
The BJP has fielded two senior ministers to take on the Opposition for “hurting economy”, with their continued disruptions.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is anchoring the Goods and Services Tax Bill, accused the Congress of obstructionist tendencies and negativism.
“The Congress may be upset with the government for political reasons. They may be upset with the electorate for the 2014 verdict. They should accept and seriously introspect, after having ruled the country for the longest period of time, that negativism hurts the country,” Jaitley said.
“Should its obstructionist tendencies inflict an economic injury on the country?” Jaitley said in a lenghty article released by the BJP, countering objections raised by the Congress to the GST Bill. Jaitley gave a point-wise rebuttal to the dissent put forth by the Congress.
BJP leader and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that by maintaining a untenable position of demanding resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje over Lalitgate and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan over Vyapam scam, the Congress has pushed itself against the wall. “Their position 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 the BJP headquarters.
Blaming the Congress president, Sitharaman said, “If this session gets washed out, Sonia Gandhi will have to take the blame.”
Sitharaman said the Prime Minister could intervene during the discussion only if the Opposition agreed to debate in the House.
In reaction, Congress’ Anand Sharma said, “The blame of non-functioning of Parliament lies squarely with the PM, for his arrogance and obduracy.”
Asking the BJP not to give patronising sermons as they themselves had disrupted the proceedings while in the Opposition, Sharma said, “The unwarranted, uncharitable and provocative statement by the Finance Minister and BJP accusing the Congress of disruption makes it abundantly clear that the government is neither serious nor sincere in breaking the deadlock in Parliament.”