Monsoon session: Opposition wants PM Modi to speak on Manipur, government says caveat ploy to disrupt
In an all-party meet, Congress, AAP, other constituents of INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) stuck to the demand for a debate on Manipur.
New Delhi: Fresh from stitching together an alliance of 26 parties, Opposition parties on Wednesday appeared to set the stage for confrontation with the government in the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament, seeking a debate on Manipur and demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak on the issue. The Union government said it was ready to discuss the subject but wouldn’t agree to any caveats.
In an all-party meeting chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh, the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Left parties, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and other constituents of the newly formed INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) stuck to their demand for a debate on Manipur.
“The first order of business in both Houses has to be a discussion on Manipur with the Prime Minister giving either a statement or a reply. They have to withdraw the (Delhi) ordinance. Why bring the ordinance in the first place when a five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court gave an order?” asked Congress’s Rajya Sabha chief whip Jairam Ramesh after the meeting. Top Opposition leaders indicated their protest might continue if the PM doesn’t speak on the Manipur violence.
The government agreed to a debate on the subject.
“All parties have been demanding a discussion on Manipur. The government is ready for a discussion on Manipur whenever the Rajya Sabha chairman and Lok Sabha speaker decide a date and time,” Union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said. Asked about the demand for a statement by the PM, Joshi said when the government agreed for a discussion, raising issues about the PM was like putting a caveat for creating disruption in House.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh argued in the meeting that the government shouldn’t have promulgated an ordinance on a constitutional amendment, referring to a controversial ordinance establishing the Centre’s control over Delhi’s bureaucracy. “The bill (to replace the ordinance) aims to destroy federal structure. A large number of parties, including the Congress, supported us on this issue. How can they make a constitutional amendment by promulgating an ordinance?” he asked.
In the meeting, the government was embarrassed when National Democratic Alliance member and Union minister of state Ramdas Athawale flagged concerns over violence against Scheduled Castes and women, said leaders present in the meeting. “Atrocities against Dalits and women are a matter of concern. But this is not a political issue. The Indian government has enacted laws against such atrocities. The states must implement the law and this issue must be raised in Parliament,” Athawale said after the meeting.
Singh also said that some parties, including the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), opposed the government’s push for a uniform civil code. A few parties urged the government to bring the women’s reservation bill – which guarantees 33% seats in legislatures for women – first to ensure gender parity. Biju Janata Dal member Sasmit Patra said the party asked for the women’s reservation bill. YSR Congress Party and Bharat Rashtra Samithi also wanted the bill to be passed by Parliament.
CPI (Marxist) floor leader Elamaram Kareem announced that Opposition leaders will bring adjournment motions in both Houses on Manipur on Thursday.
JD(U) leader Rajiv Ranjan Singh pointed to the large number of issues for the Opposition. “The government wants to run the House in its own way. This government has failed to reduce unemployment. The country is going towards privatisation. The economy is in jeopardy…But this government doesn’t allow any debate,” he said.