Bid to woo Opposition fails
Attempts to get the opposition to call off the Rajya Sabha boycott came to naught. MoS Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel’s bid to draw Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma in deep conversation, bore no fruit. Instead of talks, the opposition preferred to walk off. So, Chairman Rajya Sabha Venkaiah Naidu had to summon Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Leader of House, with a SOS message, in midst of his coffee session. But to little avail; post his powwow with the Chairman, Jaitley accused the opposition of ‘manufacturing’ a dispute.
The opposition boycott was over the Chair’s decision not to allow them to raise certain issues under adjournment motion. The Chair was obviously caught between a rock and a hard place. LoP Ghulam Nabi Azad accused him and the Treasury of “muzzling’’ the opposition voices, even during zero hour. Well, the opposition had totted up an entire list of ‘people issues’: Sensex crash and Rafael deal (Congress), role of the Governor (TMC), Kasganj communal violence (SP & BSP), farm distress, Air India disinvestment and fuel pricing (Left), non-allocation of special status to Andhra Pradesh (TDP). The Government, understandably, does not want to play ball. Deputy Chairman Rajya Sabha P J Kurien has called a peace meeting on Wednesday morning. But in all likelihood, the boycott will continue.
Lok Sabha sits late
With the Rajya Sabha in boycott mode, the Lok Sabha made up. It sat rather late in the evening to allow members to speak on the Motion of Thanks for the President’s address. The Prime Minister is scheduled to reply on Wednesday, first in the lower house and then the upper house, provided the latter functions. Meanwhile, a lavish dinner was spread out for the MPs, just to soften the mood. The overworked parliamentary canteen staff was not too happy.
One nation, one poll is on the cards. Not in 2019, but in 2024. Going by what the government has to say, lot of preparation was afoot. For ‘the nation’ to vote in unison, the Constitution and the RPA, 1951, need amendment. Indian democracy does not function on fixed tenure, but on ‘vote of confidence’. The polls can be simultaneous only if some assemblies are dissolved early or extended beyond six months. Along with political consensus with likes of Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar, it would require BJP to have two-thirds majority in both the Houses.