December 15, 2017
Edited by Aloke Tikku
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for smooth functioning of winter session of parliament was made just after a bitter campaign in the Gujarat elections ended. The Congress-led opposition has signaled it is unlikely to persuade them to play along.
Switching back from campaign mode for the Gujarat assembly elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday welcomed discussion on “all issues” that the opposition wanted to raise in parliament’s winter session beginning Friday and called for constructive discussion on government business. PM Modi, who led the BJP’s campaign in Gujaratwhere exit polls predict a fifth term for his party, also made a renewed pitch for simultaneous elections.
“The Government has requested all parties, especially the opposition, for their co-operation for the smooth functioning of the House”, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar announced on Thursday after a meeting of all parties ahead of the truncated session. Parliament will hold 14 sittings in this session, compared to 21 last year.
The government’s appeal, made just after a bitter campaign in the Gujarat elections ended, however, is unlikely to persuade the opposition to play along. Not when it was already cut up with the ruling NDA government for trimming the winter session due to elections in PM Modi’s home state.
Also, the Congress does not intend to let the allegation leveled by PM Modi against former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pass. Leading his party’s campaign in Gujarat, PM Modi had alleged that senior Congress leaders including Dr Singh colluded with Pakistani officials at a dinner event in Delhi in an attempt to influence the Gujarat result.
“Either the government should prove the claim or the Prime Minister must apologise… Nothing short of an apology will satisfy us,” its leader Anand Sharma said.
The government has already rejected the demand; Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had underlined the Congress should not expect an apology for the attack over the dinner that he described as a “political misadventure”.
At Thursday’s all party meeting convened by the government, Left leader D Raja was talking about PM Modi’s attack on Dr Manmohan Singh when PM Modi also walked in. He, however, refused to get drawn into the controversy.
Instead, PM Modi told the opposition that he would welcome deliberations on all topics and urged them not only to let parliament function without disruptions but also rise above partisan politics to support simultaneous elections.
PM Modi requested all parties to rise above political considerations on simultaneous elections so that development projects may be implemented across the country in full force rather than being interrupted by frequent elections, a government statement said