NEW DELHI: In a last-ditch attempt to save the remaining days of the ongoing Monsoon Session, the government offered a discussion on the Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi controversy under Rule 193 in the Lok Sabha, a move that split the Opposition ranks.
It’s also toying with the option of extending the session by a few more days. SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav favoured allowing a discussion under any rule to break the logjam, even as the Congress stuck to its gun. Mallikarjun Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia walked into an all-party meet called by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan almost at the fag end, just to reiterate its “no discussion before resignation” stance.
Not that the Congress leaders had any option. Party vice-chief Rahul Gandhi already set the tone with a deadpan declaration, “Parliament will function once Sushma Swaraj declares her family’s financial relations with Lalit Modi”, making it obvious there was no end to the current stalemate.
But Mulayam, it appeared, had lost his patience. His disapproval of the Congress’ continued placard-carrying disruption tactics became evident on the floor of the Lower House. While he urged the Speaker to allow Kharge to make his counter-argument on Sushma’s suo motu last week, he also warned the Congress that he would “withdraw support” to their cause, if did not they mend their ways.
The Speaker’s meeting with all-party leaders was a fallout of his outburst. Though, little changed on the ground, the CPM and its arch-rival the TMC insisted that the Speaker admits an adjournment motion, which entails voting, as a pre-condition to discussion on the Sushma-LaMo issue. And the Congress remained non-cooperative.
“If adjournment motion is allowed, we’ll participate in the discussion. The BJP has an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha so what’s the problem,” TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay told Express.
The problem is: the Government fears if it allows an adjournment motion in the Lower House, the Opposition will make the same demand in the Upper House. The ruling side does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha. “In trying to break the deadlock and to isolate the Congress in the Lower House, can the government bargain for its own possible isolation in the Upper House?” a senior MP from a southern party wondered, adding, “It’s a tight rope walk”, for the Treasury benches.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley could hardly hide his exasperation. He squarely blamed the Congress leadership for the logjam. “Many in the Congress would like to take part in the discussion, but are being stopped by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi,” he charged.
Indications are that the government may even extend the session by a few days, if it can get enough regional parties on board to push through the GST Bill.