JNU row: No meeting point yet as PM reaches out to opp

New Delhi :  Does a change from ‘seditious” to “highly objectionable” in the context of slogans shouted on the JNU campus represent a climb down on the part of the Modi government ahead of the Budget session? Well, all this would be tested when Parliament actually gets down to business; for the present the two sides seem to be sticking to their stated positions, with just an expression of hope that the business would be transacted.

At the first such meeting with opposition leaders, Prime Minister Modi is reported to have asserted: “We will respond to the issues raised by the Opposition and address them. I hope the congenial mood here will be translated into action in Parliament.” He also set the conciliatory note by saying, “I am not the Prime Minister of BJP alone but the entire country”.

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Ex-Prof faces sedition rap

Amid the raging row over JNU, the Delhi Police have arrested former Delhi University lecturer SAR Geelani on sedition charges for allegedly organising an event at the Press Club in the national capital where “anti-India” slogans were raised by participants. The group had also hailed Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The police claim that that Geelani was the “main organiser” of the event.

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There has been a problem about reaching a general consensus that the Parliament should run smoothly. As union parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters: “The Government will discuss every issue. We have no objections. The Government is willing to walk the extra mile. Let there be an open debate about what happened in JNU, the posters put up on the campus. Some said cops should not have gone there. The mood was very good and cordial in the meeting. It was also said that a section of media is blowing things out of proportion.”

But then the realities of partisan politics are that the BJP has been targeting Congress over its support to “anti-nationals” in the JNU row whereas the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, while “disassociating” from all such students who shouted slogans attacking India’s unity and Constitution, insisted that there was no proof of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar, the arrested JNU Student Union president. “There is no proof of sedition against him, and the BJP leaders should stop “defaming” our party leadership with their “anti-national” jibes. It is the job of the government to restrain them,” he added.

Another senior party leader, Anand Sharma, claimed that the Congress was always of the view that bills should be passed on merit but if there is a stalemate in Parliament, then the government must find out the reasons and address them.

“If people holding the constitutional positions are vitiating the atmosphere in the country, then it will find a reflection in Parliament. Had action been taken against them, then many things which we see today would not be happening,” he added.

The Budget session begins from February 23.

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