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Opposition for Fight, Government Says Bring It On

Combative Sonia says Congress will ally with like-minded parties to aggressively raise burning issues, as government readies for debate

Published: 23rd February 2016 05:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2016 05:32 AM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: From arson in Jat community’s reservation agitation to sedition charges against slogan-shouting JNU students, the menu is set for a confrontational Budget session beginning Tuesday. The dark clouds were seen at an all-party meeting on Monday, after which the Opposition accused the government of doing everything to ensure the session was stormy and the government said it was keen to debate issues put forward by the Opposition.

Government sources admitted they were waiting for the debate with great anticipation to show the differences between ‘patriots’ and ‘anti-nationals’.  Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu, however, sounded positive: “The general consensus is House should run, we are ready for debate on all issues.” His confidence seems to be stem from remarks made by regional leaders as well as some Congress seniors in the Lok Sabha who apparently would prefer debates to disruptions.

“Contrary to what the government has been saying, let me once and for all make it absolutely clear — we want Parliament to function, to legislate. The problem is not with us, but with the government which refuses to accept the democratic right of the Opposition to raise burning public issues for debate and discussion,” Sonia Gandhi said at the Congress Working Committee meeting.

PM Modi, addressing a farmers’ rally in Odisha on Sunday, however, accused the Opposition and some NGOs of running a campaign to pull down his government — a veiled suggestion that agitations, including the Jat stir which claimed 19 lives, may not be spontaneous.

Prior to the CWC meeting and after the all-party meet, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s statements were not in sync with Naidu’s positive outlook.

Nonetheless, there seem to be some murmurs among Congress leaders that the party must not allow the government to paint it as a disruptive force as there was a need to put across the party’s views on various issues, including the student agitation, the drought situation and economic crisis.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury charged that the government was “adopting an agenda for disruption”. He expressed disappointment that Modi had not reined in BJP motormouths as he had assured. Making matters worse, TN BJP leader H Raja on Sunday allegedly remarked that CPI leader D Raja should shoot his daughter Aparajitha, a JNU student, for taking part in “anti-national” agitations.

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