Opposition blames Piyush Goyal for impasse

Opposition parties' MPs participate in a protest near Mahatma Gandhi's statue demanding revocation of the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs, during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Opposition leaders from the Rajya Sabha boycotted the proceedings for the day to sit in solidarity with their 12 colleagues who have been staging a protest at the Gandhi statue in Parliament against their suspension for the last eight days now. The leaders, speaking to The Hindu, blamed Leader of the House Piyush Goyal accusing him of “inflexibility” leaving little room for compromise.

At the protest site, Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said tendering an apology remains out of question. He said though Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu asked him and Mr. Goyal to sit together and solve the issue on Wednesday, there has been no outreach from the Government.

“It is only in the House that they speak about reaching out. Outside the House they blame, criticise and humiliate us. They have no moral right to hold the Opposition responsible for this impasse,” Mr. Kharge said.

Congress Rajya Sabha chief whip Jairam Ramesh said he visited the homes of the Opposition leaders, met Mr. Goyal, Chairman Naidu and Deputy Chairman Harivansh to explore options to resolve the deadlock. “In the last three days, I have moved heaven and earth to find a way out. Chairman Naidu’s position in all fairness is not unreasonable. He has appealed to both sides to come together and talk. But I must say Mr. Goyal has taken fundamentalist position leaving little room for a compromise,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Senior RJD leader Manoj K Jha was equally critical of Mr. Goyal’s role. He said, “The Leader of the House should have the capacity and the willingness to transcend barriers. Instead of transcending barriers we see that new ones are created. I would go to the extent of saying that we are missing the presence of Arun Jaitely.”

CPI(M) leader Elamaram Kareem said the Government had deliberately suspended the 12 MPs to ease the passage of key Bills. “Mr. Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi humiliate and ridicule us inside the House. In such a situation, how can there be any headway out of this,” he said.

He said the question of whether the Opposition is giving a free walk over to the Government is misplaced. “Everyone must remember that we are in this situation because of the Government’s insistence on passing the General Insurance Bill despite protests and our call seeking a vote in the last session,” he said.

NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar and Samajwadi leader Akhilesh Yadav also participated in the protest. Along with the slogans, the lawmakers sang songs as they sat through the day on the grass in the shadow of the Gandhi statue. TMC MP Dola Sen and AAP MP Sanjay Singh were the lead singers.

Many others also joined in. Various leaders have been taking turns to bring in food for their protesting colleagues. On Wednesday, the responsibility fell on NCP leader Supriya Sule. Ms. Sule, along with her party leaders Vandana Chavan and Fauzia Khan, was seen serving food at the protest site.

Many key leaders including Congress’s Kapil Sibal, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, TMC’s Derek O’Brien and others skipped the protest for various reasons.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 9:06:15 AM |

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