Let Farooq attend, Opposition tells PM at all-party meet before House session

Pradeep Kaushal
Modi, Shah, Azad at the all-party meeting, Sunday. (Express photo by Renuka Puri)

AS PRIME Minister Narendra Modi said the government was ready to discuss every issue, at the all-party meeting held a day before the Winter Session of Parliament begins Monday, the Opposition raised the question of continued detention of leaders in Kashmir. Congress Rajya Sabha leader Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded that senior National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, who is held under the Public Safety Act, “be allowed to attend Parliament”.

Buoyant after the recent Assembly election results which didn’t give the BJP the results it expected, the Opposition is gearing up to take on the government over the economic slow-down, unemployment and farm distress, apart from Kashmir.

Returning to power with an increased majority, the Modi government in the past two sessions pushed through the triple talaq Bill and the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Now, bolstered by the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya case, it has lined up exhaustive legislative business such as the contentious citizenship (amendment) Bill.

The session is scheduled to conclude on December 13, and will hold a special joint sitting of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on November 26 to commemmorate ‘Constitution Day’.

Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, apart from leaders of 27 parties, were present at Sunday’s meeting, called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.

In his customary remarks, the PM said the government was willing to discuss every issue in the House. “We look forward to a productive Parliament session, where people-centric and development-oriented issues would be discussed,” he said, adding that constructive discussions in Parliament also kept the bureaucracy alert.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress) and National Conference Lok Sabha MP Hasnain Masoodi raised the continuing detention of mainstream leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

“How can a parliamentarian be detained illegally?” Azad said, in an apparent reference to Abdullah.

Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the Opposition demanded that the issues of economic slow-down, job loss, farm distress and pollution be discussed. He said the Congress will also raise the issue of withdrawal of the SPG cover to the Gandhi family.

Senior Congress member Digvijaya Singh has given notice for a discussion on floods in the Rajya Sabha, while Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said they would raise the role being played by West Bengal Governor Jagdip Dhankar.

The government plans to seek Parliament’s nod on two ordinances — one by which it cut the corporate tax rate for new and domestic manufacturing companies to arrest the economic slow-down and boost growth; and the other introduced to ban the sale, manufacture and storage of e-cigarettes and similar products.

According to both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha business list, about 35 legislations, including the crucial Industrial Relations Code, will be taken up during the session.

The 18 members of the Shiv Sena in the Lok Sabha and its three members in the Rajya Sabha have been allotted seats on the Opposition side. Pralhad Joshi said, “The Shiv Sena minister has resigned from the NDA government. They are not attending today’s NDA meeting and are working out an alliance with the Congress and NCP. So, it is natural that they will be allotted seats on the Opposition side in both Houses.”

The BSP, JD(U), RPI, DMK, AIADMK, LJP, SP, TDP, Apna Dal, AAP and RJD also attended the meeting.