Will PM speak? Opposition and NDA in a war of nerves

Opposition in full cry for Narendra Modi’s intervention in demonetisation debate in the Rajya Sabha.

November 24, 2016 03:39 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:58 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Wednesday.

The war of nerves between the government and the Opposition over demonetisation paralysed Parliament for the sixth day on Wednesday. If in the Rajya Sabha the question was whether or not Prime Minister Narendra Modi would make an intervention in the debate, the point of contention in the Lok Sabha was whether the government would allow voting on the motion.

Mr. Modi was present in the Lower House, and government sources did not rule out his making an appearance in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. “The Opposition is demanding that the Prime Minister come to the House. He came. Why are they not allowing the House to function? People want demonetisation to be discussed in the House. I request the Opposition to let the House proceedings go on,” Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said.

However, the demand for Mr. Modi’s appearance was raging in the Rajya Sabha, where the debate on demonetisation started on the first day. Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi objected to the remarks of Samajwadi Party member Naresh Agarwal, leading to heated exchanges, prompting Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien to step in. Government managers told The Hindu that the government was clear that Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the designated Minister to answer questions during the debate, “is ready with his response” and the Opposition’s insistence that Mr. Modi speak did not cut much ice. “Even during the debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill on Goods and Services Tax in the previous session, Rajya Sabha members were aggrieved that Mr. Modi was not present during the debate; but he did intervene in the Lok Sabha, thanking the members for coming together for a crucial reform. Therefore, he may choose to intervene or not, it is not binding,” a Minister said.

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