As Monsoon Session nears its end, Opposition hardens its stance

Want Pegasus discussion, repeal of farm laws, HM’s reply on Delhi minor’s rape

As Monsoon Session nears its end, Opposition hardens its stance

Photo for representation only. LSTV/PTI

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4

With nine days to go for the Monsoon Session of Parliament which has been a complete washout, the Opposition parties on Wednesday further hardened their stance adding more issues to their existing list of demands as a precondition to run the Houses.

After a morning meeting between opposition leaders in the chamber of leader of opposition Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge the opposition parties said they not only wanted a discussion on Pegasus snooping with a reply by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, they also wanted farm laws repealed.

“Opposition is united in spite of the Modi government’s efforts to break the unity. We demand: first, a discussion on the Pegasus scandal and its impact on national security with a reply by the Home Minister. Two, a repeal of the three farm laws with a discussion on farmers' concerns,” Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said.

TMC leader in Rajya Sabha Derek O Brien said he would shave his head if Home Minister came to Parliament and replied to the issue of rape of a minor Dalit girl in Delhi.

“We need to put up missing persons’ notices. Where is the prime minister? Where is the home minister? They are not attending Parliament. The home minister should come and tell us why the minor was raped in the national capital. I will shave my head if the HM comes and replies,” Brien said.

Parliament’s monsoon session has remained dysfunctional since the start on July 19 with the opposition uniting on the demand to discuss snooping allegations.

The opposition has been insisting on suspending entire business in both Houses to debate the issue under the rules that entail voting.

The government has maintained that IT minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has already rejected all the allegations of spying in a statement to both Houses and the opposition can seek clarifications on that statement.

“IT minister does not deal with national security. Home minister does and home minister should reply to the Pegasus debate which the government must agree to,” deputy leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said, adding that the rigid approach of the government is responsible for parliamentary impasse.

The government in a Rajya Sabha business advisory committee meeting on Tuesday also offered the opposition to discuss Pegasus as part of debate on a statutory resolution moved by CPI’s Binoy Biswam on the new IT social media intermediary rules.

The government allocated one hour for this discussion in the BAC meeting on Tuesday with the opposition not on board on any of the government’s proposals to break the current deadlock.

The opposition is adamant on a stand-alone debate on Pegasus.

The opposition also released a statement signed by leaders of 14 political parties conveying their steadfastness on the demand for a probe on the Pegasus and farmers’ issues.

The statement has been signed by leaders of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma; TMC’s Derek O Brien and Kalyan Banerjee, NCP’s Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, RJD’s Manoj Jha, CPM’s Elamaram Kareem, AAP’s Sushil Gupta, IUML’s Mohammad Bashir, NC’s Hasnain Masoodi, CPI’s Binoy Viswam, RSP’s NK Premachandran and LJD’s Shreyams Kumar.

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