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Modi ready to join debate, but Oppn refuses to oblige

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Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. PTI Photo by Kamal Kishore(PTI6_8_2016_000205A)

New Delhi : Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday tried to broker peace in the Lok Sabha assuring that Prime Minister Modi will join the debate on demonetisation and intervene, but the Opposition refused to back down. Both the Houses of Parliament were shut after pandemonium and demonstrations in the House wells. They were repeatedly adjourned but no success in stopping a series of shouting matches between the treasury benches and the opposition.

No business has been transacted in the nine working days gone by since the winter session began on November 16 and the impasse appears not ending soon, though there are still 16 more sittings until December 22. The most crucial agenda for the government in this session is passage of three Bill on the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) to kick it off from April 1.

An opposition leader said the ball is in the government’s court if it wants to restore order in Parliament to carry out the listed business, including the GST legislations. He, however, suspected that the government has developed cold feet on the GST that is to replace all national and state indirect taxes, sensing the inflation it will trigger. No wonder, Prime Minister Modi is deliberately making provocative statements against the Opposition on black money to make it impossible for a smooth Parliament session, he said.


When Rajnath Singh rose amid the Opposition ruckus to assert that the government is ever ready to discuss the demonetisation and the PM will intervene, Congress group leader Mallikarjun Kharge and other parties’ leaders said even the Rajya Sabha was assured that the PM will intervene but they won’t allow the debate unless it is held under a rule that allows voting at the end as they are not prepared for a talked-out debate.

Kharge said the prolonged impasse will end only after the PM Modi throws light on his decision to demonetise high-value currency notes in the Lok Sabha. “More than 70 people have died and more than 1,000 people have been injured. This deadlock can only end when the PM comes for discussion in the House,” he said.

“If you have a complaint on implementation (of demonetisation), then we are ready to debate. Don’t doubt our integrity. You want PM to come to Lok Sabha for this debate then he will and he will make an intervention,” the Home Minister said.

In the Rajya Sabha Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad led the attack, saying the Opposition wants to continue the demonetisation debate that began on November 16. But it shall be only in the presence of the Prime Minister since he announced the decision and he alone can respond to questions, he said.

“If Prime Minister makes a big announcement; protocol is that he gives statement on first day of Parliament. It is happening for the first time that the prime minster hasn’t followed that,” he said.

Ministers M Venkaiah Naidu, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had a wordy duel with the Opposition, accusing it of not letting the House function despite the government’s readiness for the debate.