The stormy start of the monsoon session of Parliament on July 21 belied any hope that the Modi Government would be able to pass a host of important legislations, including the crucial Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and Land acquisition bill in the three-week session. The stock market is keenly watching the developments in parliament. If the Government fails to pass these crucial bills, it could adversely impact the sentiment on the bourses and send wrong signals to the international investment community.
On the first day of the start of the monsoon session on Tuesday, the Congress-led opposition made it clear they would not allow the Parliament to function if the Government did not sack Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief minister Vasundhara Raje for helping the former Commissioner of Indian Premier League (IPL) Lalit Modi, who was facing an Enforcement Directorate probe in 16 cases of economic offences. The Opposition is also seeking the scalp of Madhya Pradesh Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over massive recruitment scam in his state and deaths and murders of several witnesses.
While the Upper house of the parliament had to be adjourned without conducting any business due to chaotic scenes, the Lok Sabha briefly met to pay tributes to a sitting member and 13 former MPs who died in the recent past.
The unprecedented unity among the opposition ranks and their insistence that the Prime Minister Modi must sack these leaders if he wanted the parliament to function is a throwback to the past when the BJP similarly did not allow the parliament to function for weeks and months over demand for resignation of “tainted’ ministers in the previous UPA Government.
In a tit-for-tat mood, the Opposition has sensed that the Government will be under pressure to find a way out to end the logjam to carry on its legislative business on which the Modi Government is betting heavily…
The Government offered to hold debate on all the issues raised by the opposition, and Sushma Swaraj even came forward to say she as ready to table a statement on her alleged link with Lalit Modi and answer all questions raised by the members. But it has not eased the situation.
“The Prime Minister had assured to ensure transparency, accountability in governance and acting against those indulging in corrupt practices… Where is the probity left? You have violated the dignity,”
– Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.
He also asked the reason for Swaraj to write to the British government to issue travel documents to Lalit Modi two and a half months after NDA came to power in June last year. In addition, Sharma raised the issue of the affidavit signed by Raje favoring Lalit Modi to get immigration certificate from UK authorities.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, who is the Leader of the Rajya Sabha, said government is ready to discuss any issue. “We get a distinct and clear impression that the opposition wants disturbance for some time. They don’t want a discussion. The government is publicly declaring, as we have in the House, that we are ready for a discussion in any format, at any time,” he told reporters.
“We offered that Sushma Swaraj could reply to the discussion. Other central ministers if necessary will also reply to the discussion and in case they want her to make a statement, we can even start with her making a statement and the discussion could be structured around her statement. We left the option to the opposition which has not been accepted by them…”
– Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Rajya Sabha
Rejecting the offer for holding a debate, the Congress signaled it would not allow the house to function at any cost and asked the BJP to look into the way it paralyzed the parliament while it was in the opposition. “We are only carrying forward the 10 years precedence which was set by them (BJP) when we were on the ruling side. Every time our government sacrificed our portfolios even before any investigations and enquiry began. They should now follow the same and we are demanding only this,” Sharma said.
Senior CPI(M) leader and veteran parliamentarian Sitaram Yechuri also said that unless the Government agreed to sack these leaders and order a thorough probe, the parliament could not function.
Clearly, like in the past, politics has taken precedence over larger interest of the nation.
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