The Central Government is responsible for the disruption of Parliament proceedings, we must discuss the Pegasus issue says Congress.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accused the Congress party of causing repeated disruptions and not allowing the Parliament to function properly. He stated this while speaking in a meeting of the BJP’s parliamentary party on July 27, and requested his party MPs to expose the Congress-led Opposition’s attempts to derail the government’s effort to discuss important issues.
However, the leader of Opposition, in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge from the Congress said that Parliament proceedings are being disrupted over the Pegasus issue as the government is avoiding a discussion on it.
The government is trying to “muzzle” the Opposition’s voice, but it will not be cowed down and will keep fighting to raise people’s issues, including farmers’ problems and the Pegasus snooping matter, the Congress said on Thursday.
“If attempts are made to crush and muzzle our issues by targeting us, using threats, fear or pressurising us, the Congress and a united Opposition are not going to budge and will keep fighting,” Mr. Kharge told reporters in New Delhi.
His remarks came after a Parliament security officer complained against a Trinamool Congress (TMC) member for creating ruckus in the House Chamber after Rajya Sabha was adjourned.
The Opposition is demanding a discussion on the Pegasus issue because it impinges on national security, and citizens’ freedom and privacy. Media, armed forces and judges have been named as potential targets, Mr. Kharge asserted.
“Revelations are being made one after the other. Why is the government running away? They are saying the Opposition is not ready and therefore, a discussion is not happening,” he said.
Has any notice been received from the government for a discussion or has anyone sought to reach out to the Opposition over the Pegasus issue, the Congress leader asked.
Mr. Kharge said that the government is saying the Opposition does not want to speak on farmers’ problems and inflation, among other issues, but when 10 Bills are passed in one hour “you know well of their (government’s) intentions”.
He also claimed that the BJP caused over 90% disruption when it was in the Opposition during the UPA regime.”They are telling us, Opposition is not letting the House run and not cooperating,” Mr. Kharge said.
On the Pegasus spyware snooping issue, Mr. Kharge said the entire world is probing it, including France, Hungary and Bulgaria, but India is not.
“Why are you afraid of discussions,” he said targeting the Centre.
Mr. Kharge claimed that in the last 10 years, at least 10 times Rule 267 was used to discuss issues including inflation, foreign direct investment, farmers’ suicide and agrarian crisis, Kashmir and demonetisation.
A notice under Rule 267 calls for setting aside of the business of the day to take up discussion on the issue being raised.
The Opposition leader said the criterion is there for discussions and yet a debate on the Pegasus issue is not being allowed.
He said no leader from the government has come to speak to the Opposition and the informal talks do not mean much. “We suggested (Defence Minister) Rajnath Singh should call a meeting of leaders of both houses,” Mr. Kharge said.
He said it is wrong to say that the government has approached the Opposition. The Opposition has not received any notice, Mr. Kharge said.
“It is false propaganda by the government. Pegasus is the most important issue,” he said.
“Parliament was disrupted. But, we acted tolerantly. They don’t have tolerance. Suspension of six TMC members is wrong as they did not do anything wrong. Placards have been used earlier also,” Mr. Kharge said, pointing to the suspension of TMC members.
On the action against TMC MPs, he said, “They want to run the House by sending everyone out of the House. There is a conspiracy to disallow discussion on farmers and Pegasus issues. They want to crush the Pegasus issue and wrap up the session.” Congress member Pratap Singh Bajwa said farmers are sitting on the borders of Delhi and “over 500” have died in the cause, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said nothing about these “martyrs”.
Farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at Delhi border points since November against three Central Agri laws enacted last year. “What is the job of Parliament. PM Modi has said the laws are in the benefit of farmers but they are not accepting. I had earlier told the PM I will come with him to the border. But repeal the laws if farmers don’t want the laws,” Mr. Bajwa said.
Earlier farmers were 50km away, but now they are sitting at Jantar Mantar and the government must listen to them. It should go to their Kisan Sansad at Jantar Mantar and also repeal the laws, the MP said.
“These laws are death warrants of farmers. The intention is to usurp farmlands and hand them to MNCs. The Congress will never allow this to happen,” Mr. Bajwa said.
BJP Was Responsible for Obstructionism When UPA Was Ruling Too
When the BJP was in the opposition for a decade till 2014, it was responsible for obstructionism too. On January 30, 2011, the then Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha late Arun Jaitley was quoted as saying in Ranchi – “Parliament’s job is to conduct discussions. But many a time, Parliament is used to ignore issues and in such situations, obstruction of Parliament is in the favour of democracy. Therefore parliamentary obstruction is not undemocratic.”
August 26, 2012 – Jaitley outside Parliament – “There are occasions when an obstruction in Parliament brings greater benefits to the country… Our strategy does not permit us to allow the government to use Parliament (for debate) without being held accountable… we do not want to give the government an escape route through debate.”
September 7, 2012 – About the constant disruptions during the Monsoon session of Parliament, then leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha the late Sushma Swaraj had said – “Not allowing parliament to function is also a form of democracy, like any other form.”
She was responding to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the BJP’s stalling of parliament was a “negation” of democracy. This was in the context of BJP’s charge of corruption against the UPA government in the coal blocks allocation case.
On the same day, Jaitley too defended the disrupted session thus – “One session of Parliament has earlier been lost on account of corruption in allotment of 2G spectrum. That helped this country cleanse the telecom sector. Hopefully, the long-term gains of this session may enable future governments to clean up the process of allocation of natural resources.”
According to records of PRS Legislative Research, the productivity of the 15th Lok Sabha, that is 2009-2014 UPA-II, was the worst in the last 50 years. “The Parliament was disrupted frequently and witnessed a decline in time spent on legislation and oversight of the government. Disruptions over the allocation of 2G spectrum, coal blocks, FDI in retail, demand for Telangana, and the Commonwealth Games were the highlights of the 15th Lok Sabha,” according to the PRS.
“During the 15th Lok Sabha, frequent disruptions of Parliamentary proceedings have resulted in the Lok Sabha working for 61% and Rajya Sabha for 66% of its scheduled time,” the PRS report says.
Among other things, the sessions were marred by disruptions over demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to examine the 2G Spectrum scam, CBI report on coal block allocation, India-China border dispute, the establishment of Lokpal, allegations of corruption in the railway ministry and the crimes against women, particularly Nirbhaya case in the Capital.
The BJP, arguably, deployed the strategy of disruption during UPA-II with a degree of success as it followed a spate of ministerial resignations including A. Raja, Dayanidhi Maran, Shashi Tharoor, P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar.
September 2012, Sushma Swaraj — “We had to stall Parliament to expose the government and its corruption. Anyway, it is the government’s job to run the Parliament, not that of the opposition.”
Opposition Claims that BJP is Not Allowing the House to Function
Rahul Gandhi held a meeting with the Opposition this morning because the BJP is muzzling their voices in Parliament and their mikes are being switched off when they want to speak in Parliament.
‘Voice of people crushed’ says Rahul Gandhi as he leads a united Opposition protest march on Thursday against the government on several issues, including Pegasus and alleged manhandling of their MPs in Rajya Sabha.
Speaking to reporters at Vijay Chowk near Parliament, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the voice of people was “crushed” in the House.
“The Parliament session is over. Frankly, as far as 60 percent of country is concerned, there was no Parliament session as the voice of 70 percent of people was crushed, humiliated,” Rahul said. “On Wednesday, Rajya Sabha MPs were physically beaten,” he charged.
Rahul said the opposition was not allowed to speak inside Parliament and “this is nothing short of murder of democracy”.
The top leaders of several opposition parties met in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and then walked in protest from Parliament House to Vijay Chowk. Those who attended the meeting included Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Kharge, Sanjay Raut, Manoj Jha and other opposition leaders. The protest comes a day after the passage of bills in Rajya Sabha amid charges of manhandling of opposition leaders.
The protesting MPs carried placards and banners against the government that read ‘Stop murder of democracy’ and ‘we demand Repeal of anti farmers laws’.
Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena MP in Rajya Sabha, said that the opposition didn’t get a chance to present views in Parliament. “Yesterday’s incident against women MPs was against democracy. It felt like we were standing at the Pakistan border,” he said.