The ruling coalition at the Centre is shying away from facing Parliament, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said on Thursday. “They [the ruling party] do not want to face Parliament and will delay the session as long as they can.”
Addressing a press conference, Ms. Swaraj said the budget session of the Lok Sabha had already been cut short. “We expected a short session in May; that didn't happen.” The Opposition sought a special session and that also did not take place. On top of that, now the government had announced that the monsoon session would begin in August and not in July. “As the principal Opposition party, courtesy demands that we should have been consulted or at least informed. We have come to know of it only through the TV,” she said.
Ms. Swaraj was here to participate in the two-day State Executive Committee meeting of the party, which concluded on Thursday.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said there were a number of issues, such as the Lokpal Bill, which had to be discussed and debated in Parliament. “While they are convening an all-party meeting, why is it that Parliament, the forum of collective wisdom and the actual forum of legislation, is not being used? There are too many interlinked issues that have got to be discussed.”
Pointing out that the Women's Reservation Bill could get consensus in the Rajya Sabha, she observed that the consensus could be obtained only after use of marshals to remove some persons from the House. “We do not want those scenes repeated in the Lok Sabha,” she said and pleaded for the cooperation of all the parties to get the Bill passed.
Referring to the alleged bugging of Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's offices in North Block, she said: “I have already called it India's Watergate. This shows how insecure the government is. The Finance Minister may have his own compulsions to play it down. That chewing gum issue is hard to digest,” she quipped.
Ms. Swaraj said whether it was the handiwork of the government or a corporate house “it is a matter of great concern. And it should be thoroughly investigated and I am demanding a probe.”
Asked about the Lokpal Bill, she said: “We have not seen the draft at all. Let both the drafts [of the government and also of the civil society] be placed before us. Then we will come out with our response.”
On the issue of holding talks with Pakistan, she was categorical that there was no sense in talking to that country unless it did something solid to stop cross-border terrorism.