The INDIA bloc parties resolved not to disrupt the proceedings of the winter session of Parliament, which is the penultimate session before the country goes for general elections in April-May next year. The decision was taken in the customary morning meeting hosted by Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge at his office in Parliament on December 4.
Samajwadi Party, which did not send any representative, was conspicuous in their absence. The bloc has also decided to strongly protest against any resolution moved by the government seeking to expel Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra. The Ethics Committee investigating the “cash-for-query” allegation, has recommended her expulsion.
The parties also decided to urge the government to allow short-duration discussions in both Houses on the economic situation and border situation.
Though the Assembly election results were not broached by any party, a source described the mood of the meeting as very sombre. According to the sources, it was resolved during the detailed discussion that this is effectively the last chance the Opposition will get to speak in Parliament and therefore no “hours should be wasted” on protesting. Breaking from the recurring trend of putting a single issue at the vortex of their protest, the INDIA bloc parties decided that it would not be the case this time, allowing all parties to raise their State-specific issues. “While the government has managed to pass innumerable Bills without discussions, we have lost session after session after putting ourselves in a fix by taking inflexible positions on a single subject,” a senior Opposition leader said.
It was decided that even Ms. Moitra’s expected expulsion would not lead to a complete boycott of the proceedings. The Opposition will demand for a detailed debate on the Ethics Panel report whenever it is presented in Lok Sabha and also that Ms. Moitra be allowed to present her defence.
The Samajwadi Party’s noticeable absence from the morning meeting raised a few eyebrows, coming on the heels of a very public spat between SP president Akhilesh Yadav and the Congress over the failure to reach a seat-sharing arrangement for the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections. However, SP sources claimed that this was not a deliberate move. The party’s Rajya Sabha leader Ramgopal Yadav had a morning engagement and no one else could be deputed.
In Ms. Moitra’s case, the parties have decided that it will demand for a discussion but will not ask for a vote on any resolution seeking her expulsion, since the voting will only highlight the measly Opposition strength in Lok Sabha. “We will not boycott the proceedings even for a day,” a senior Opposition leader emphasised.