Truce between Oppn and govt flops, ruckus in RS again

Going in circles: Govt floor managers had verbal understanding with Anand Sharma

Truce between Oppn and govt flops, ruckus in RS again

Did the Congress and the Opposition back out after an understanding with the government to restore normal functioning once Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his statement in the Rajya Sabha on his woman minister’s controversial remark?

Government floor managers say a truce was worked out with Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma and another meeting took in the chamber of Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari and only after that Modi gave a statement in the Upper House criticising in the “strongest term” the language of Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s controversial comment. 

The verbal understanding with Anand Sharma, which sources close to him have denied, was that after Modi’s statement, the House, paralysed for the third day, will be allowed to function.

As a compromise, the opposition had pitched that the Rajya Sabha adopt a unanimous resolution condemning Jyoti's statement without naming her.

The government, however, indicated that the resolution would include objectionable statements made in the past by other politicians, including Congress leader Sonia Gandhi who, ahead of the state election in Gujarat in 2007, alluded to Modi, then the chief minister of the state, as "the merchant of death."

After Modi’s first speech in the House, Sharma appeared to have toned down his critique to acknowledge the fact that the prime minister had condemned Jyoti’s outlandish comment and that this was not the first instance of ministers shooting off their mouth. He, however, said that the opposition wanted action against the minister.

A senior minister claimed that the Congress leader said that their president Sonia Gandhi wanted business to resume in the House which prompted them to opt for conciliatory approach.

But, it did not happen as the opposition, ticked by CPM parliamentarian Sitaram Yechury, again disrupted forcing the Congress to join the verbal duel. A peeved Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari also described the conduct of agitating MPs as "utterly disgraceful" for stalling the Upper House proceedings demanding Jyoti's resignation over her controversial remarks.

Because of its minority statue in the Rajya sabha, the government is in a bind. The prime minister may give a statement in the Lok Sabha, said a senior minister involved in the process, if there is a demand though the issue has flared up only in the Upper House.

Parliament may end up wasting another day on Friday since the combined opposition parties have decided to sit on dharna in the complex on the issue as it wants to impact the Lower House too where it lacks numbers.

A senior minister said that Jyoti’s has not violated any constitutional provision through her controversial statement.

He also pointed out that there is no precedent of the government registering an FIR against their own minister on such issues.

He recalled that even the UPA did not do that after scandalous statements by their own ministers and leaders including Beni Prasad Verma and Manishankar Aiyar.

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