With six sittings left, Centre, Opposition try to end standoff over Manipur debate

The government and Opposition have agreed for a debate on the Manipur violence under a pre-decided resolution, which is likely to be held on August 11, the last day of the Monsoon Session. 

Updated - August 04, 2023 07:41 am IST

Published - August 03, 2023 10:40 pm IST - New Delhi

The old Parliament building is illuminated on August 3, 2023.

The old Parliament building is illuminated on August 3, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

With just six sittings remaining in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the government and the Opposition are trying to work out a truce to break the prolonged logjam in the Rajya Sabha on the question of debate on the Manipur violence.

Both sides have agreed to have a debate under Rule 167 under a pre-decided resolution on the issue. The Opposition remains adamant on the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House but for now the next challenge is to finalise the wording of the resolution which is agreeable to both sides.

Parliament Monsoon Session, August 3, 2023 | updates

The day began in a calmed atmosphere with a convivial exchange between Leader of the House Piyush Goyal and Trinamool Congress floor leader Derek O’Brien.

“We as an Opposition, we want this discussion on Manipur. We are not here to show ego or arrogance. Manipur needs care, healing, it needs to listen to voice of consolation. Let us find a solution because this logjam is not helping any one,” Mr. O’Brien said.

In response, Mr. Goyal, reiterating his point that the government was ready for a debate on the subject from day one, invited the Opposition leaders for tea.

Editorial | Supreme indictment: On Manipur crisis and the Supreme Court of India’s censure

Though, during his submission, he said the House must run in an orderly manner and there should no sloganeering when Home Minister Amit Shah lays his statement. Though soon after, the Opposition walked out over an argument between Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar over the Chair defending the Prime Minister.

At 12.30 p.m., Mr. Goyal, along with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, walked into Mr. Kharge’s room, where floor leaders of the parties under the Indian National Developmental, Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) had assembled.

In the meeting that lasted for nearly 30 minutes, Mr. Joshi and Mr. Goyal were told that the Opposition was ready to give up on its demand to hold a debate under Rule 267. Past precedents were also pulled out, including a debate under this rule on May 6, 2002 on the Gujarat riots during which both Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani spoke.

Both Mr. Goyal and Mr. Joshi, sources said, gave in-principle approval to the idea of holding a debate on Manipur under a resolution under Rule 167.

Around 2 p.m. Congress chief whip Jairam Ramesh posted on X (formerly known as Twitter), “INDIA parties have offered a middle path solution to the Leader of the House to break the logjam and get a discussion on Manipur going in an uninterrupted manner in the Rajya Sabha. Hope the Modi government agrees.”

The challenge though now will be to word the resolution in a way that both sides agree. Sources said the INDIA parties have prepared a few drafts and they insist on underlining the “constitutional breakdown” in Manipur.

The other issue is when to schedule the debate. There are only six sittings left in the Monsoon Session with many pressing legislation, including the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (amendment) Bill, 2023, pending.

As per the government source, the debate is likely to be held on August 11, the last day of the Monsoon Session. 

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