Deadlock persists on Manipur, Opposition seeks early discussion in Rajya Sabha
The Opposition has demanded that a discussion on the pressing issue be held in the earlier part of the week beginning Monday.
The Opposition and the government on Friday appeared to have returned to an impasse over the issue of discussing the situation in Manipur in the Rajya Sabha, with the former turning down the latter’s offer of a response by Union home minister Amit Shah on August 11, which is the last day of the session.
The Opposition has demanded that a discussion on the pressing issue be held in the earlier part of the week beginning Monday, after having climbed down from its insistence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi speak on the matter.
According to a government functionary, the discussion and the minister’s reply have been scheduled for the last day of the session, since the matter will be taken up by both the Houses. “The HM will be required to be present in the Lok Sabha on Monday, where there is a bill scheduled. Then there is the discussion on the no-confidence motion scheduled for August 8-10; that leaves the HM free only on Friday,” the functionary said, asking not to be named.
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On Thursday, opposition parties, pushing for a discussion on the situation in Manipur where ethnic violence since May 3 has left hundreds dead and thousands displaced, offered what they called “a middle path” by suggesting that the discussion on the issue be held under Rule 167. A motion under the rule, which if admitted by the House, allows for passing a resolution, preceded by the minister’s reply.
The Opposition had initially been adamant on having a discussion on the issue under Rule 267 and pushed for a statement by the PM.
Responding to the government’s offer, Congress chief whip Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “Yesterday INDIA parties offered a middle path solution to the Modi government to enable the smooth functioning of the Rajya Sabha. We said let us have a mutually negotiated Motion on Manipur under Rule 167 and start a discussion on it. Modi government appeared to agree but indicated that the earliest that the discussion could take place was only on Friday, Aug 11th. This shows the government is not serious.”
The Congress leader went on to say, “...The discussion should ideally have taken place today for which INDIA parties were ready or very soon — on Monday or Tuesday. We are very serious about the middle path, finding a solution, but clearly the Modi government is not. So much for our sincere efforts.”
Those in the government, however, criticised the opposition for “politicising” the issue and said the objection to a discussion on the last day of the session was not tenable. “The government was keen on discuss the issue, the chair said there would be no time limits. Even, now we are saying that if they want to extend the session by a day, we are ready,” said the functionary quoted above.
The Opposition parties met on Sunday for their strategy meeting and decided that in the Lok Sabha, they will not participate in any legislative business. “Our participation will only be restricted to the no-confidence motion in the Lower House,” said a senior leader.
In the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition will “not accept” a debate on Manipur on the last day of the session. They are now devising a plan to use the discussion on the Delhi bill on Monday to put forward their views on Manipur.
“The India alliance will find ways within the rules of parliament to expose the Modi government on Manipur while speaking on the Delhi bill,” said Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien.
On Friday, two senior Opposition leaders also met Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar. Leader of the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal was also present. In the meeting, the government indicated that the pending notices under Rule 176 will be taken up and no any notice under Rule 167.
The two sides sparred over the issue in the Rajya Sabha as well.
Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said the discussion under Rule 167 should be admitted as there is a complete breakdown of law and order in the state.
This was following the demand from within the government to take up the issue of crimes against women in Congress-ruled Rajasthan. The opposition protested and Kharge said the issue pertaining to Rajasthan should be taken up in the state assembly.
The house was adjourned amid protests from both sides, even as Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said he has earlier ruled that the Constitution permits the Upper House to discuss everything. “No issue or individual can’t be discussed in this House,” he said.
The House was eventually adjourned for the day after the government side pushed for taking up the issue of the alleged killing of a girl in Rajasthan, whose body was recovered from a coal furnace in Bhilwara district.
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