NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha advanced the discussion on the raging JNU row from tomorrow to today, with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan deciding so amid a push by Congress and the willingness by the government.
Soon after Question Hour, Mahajan said the House would take up a short duration discussion on the functioning of universities in the country, including incidents at JNU and Hyderabad University, in the afternoon. Leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge along with two others had given notice of Adjournment Motion on the issue and the Speaker decided to go for the discussion on the issue today itself.
This led to protests by other Opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress, CPI (M), CPI, BJD and TRS, who said that Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia had himself proposed yesterday in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting that the discussion should be held on February 25 after presentation of the Railway Budget. They wanted to know as to what had happened between yesterday and today that prompted such a drastic change.
Kharge said it would be good if the matter is taken up today itself as the "issue is very important and discussions are going on everywhere". Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were present in the House when other Opposition parties opposed the move to have the discussion today.
Kharge emphasised the issue would lose its importance if it is taken up tomorrow for discussion. "Let it happen today itself," he added. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said his priority is to run the House and that the government is ready for discussion anytime.
It is not a matter of prestige or protocol but only that if the discussion is taken up tomorrow, the (HRD) Minister concerned would not be able to reply as she would be in Rajya Sabha where the matter is scheduled to be discussed today, Naidu said.
TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay, who had initially opposed the suggestion, then expressed readiness to go along with Congress saying it is the largest party in the Opposition. Mahajan requested the Opposition members to agree to the discussion today itself, which was agreed to by them. Earlier, Bandyopadhyay wanted to know why suddenly the matter had been scheduled for today. "What is the reason for this change," he wondered.
Tathagat Satpathy (BJD) said there should be "ample time" to discuss the issue and that the discussion should not be done in a hurry. Citing the decision of the BAC, A P Jithender Reddy (TRS), P Karunakaran and Mohammed Salim, both from CPI-M also said the discussion was to be held on February 25. Reddy said his party members were not prepared for the discussion today.