No compromise on demand for Modi's statement: Oppn

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad along with other opposition leaders walks to address the media on the Kashmir issue, at Parliament House complex in New Delhi, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Upping the ante on the BJP government, Opposition parties on Tuesday decided not to back down from their demand for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's response in Parliament on the controversial remarks on US President Donald Trump about Kashmir.

The proceedings of both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are likely to take a hit on Wednesday, as the government is in no mood to accede to the Opposition request insisting that the government works under collective responsibility and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar's statement rebutting Trump was more than enough.

The Opposition, however, feels that Trump has made a direct reference to Modi and the Prime Minister himself should clear the air in Parliament. In the presence of visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, Trump on Monday said that Modi had requested him during the recent G-20 meeting in Japan's Osaka to be a mediator on Kashmir issue.

On Tuesday, Opposition parties protested till around 3:30 PM before walking out and announcing the "boycotting" of the remaining proceedings of the day. In Lok Sabha too, Opposition MPs walked out in protest against Modi not coming to the House and making a statement on the issue.

Opposition leaders in Rajya Sabha held two meetings during the day to chalk out a strategy on the issue while Congress Lok Sabha members met in the morning with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in chair.

In Lok Sabha, sources said, Congress had two notices – one on Sonbhadra killings and another on Trump issue – of adjournment but during the discussions, Sonia instructed MPs that the statement on Kashmir is an important issue and assigned Manish Tewari to raise the issue. Congress floor managers were also asked to reach out to Opposition leaders for a coordinated attack.

Rajya Sabha Opposition floor leaders separately met in Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad's Parliament office in the morning. In a second meeting in the evening, floor leaders also decided to meet again on Wednesday 1 PM to chalk out its strategy if the government remains adamant that Modi will not speak on the issue. Lok Sabha floor leaders are also likely to attend the meeting.

"No matter which government was in power at Centre in past, our foreign policy has been that Kashmir is bilateral issue and no third party can intervene and President Trump knows it, I don't think President Trump would tell Pakistan's PM that India's PM has asked the US to mediate," Azad said.

Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha leader Derek O'Brien said, "Opposition has only one line. The Prime Minister should come to the House and respond."

Senior DMK MP Tiruchi Siva said the US President specifically took the Indian Prime Minister's name. “Why should the External Affairs Minister minister answer on the Prime Minister's behalf? The PM must come to the House and clarify,” he said. 

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