New Delhi, March 22
Election-year calculations appear to be tripping any possible middle path that could have allowed the now-dysfunctional post-recess budget session to resume.
So much so, even a proposal from Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to strike a truce between the floor leaders of the warring BJP and Congress-led opposition hasn’t found any formal acceptance yet.
Informed sources indicate that Dhankhar ahead of his resolution bid on Tuesday suggested that both sides climb down from their respective rigid positions — the opposition retreat from their persistent insistence on a joint parliamentary committee probe into the Adani issue, and the BJP pull back from their stance of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi’s apology for London remarks as a precondition to let the houses function.
Accordingly, the Congress on Tuesday said it would come to the talking table if the Lok Sabha Speaker permitted Gandhi to speak in the House following the allegations against him about what he said in England.
The Congress, however, said while it can talk once Gandhi is given an audience, it won’t abandon the JPC demand.
“The only way to end the Parliament impasse is to allow Rahul Gandhi to speak in Lok Sabha and refute baseless allegations levelled against him by ministers,” Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said on Wednesday.
Asked if that means they would let the house run and dial down on the JPC demand, Jairam said, “I did not say that. We will not retreat from the JPC demand. Even linking the two is absurd. We began the JPC demand on February 5. Suddenly to divert from the JPC demand, the BJP has raised this completely bogus allegation against Rahul Gandhi. It’s a hoax, Rahul Gandhi did not say what is being attributed to him. He should be allowed to speak in Lok Sabha.”
The BJP for its part has escalated the anti-Gandhi offensive to a level from where it would find descending nearly impossible.
Top ministers Piyush Goyal, Pralhad Joshi, Smriti Irani and Hardeep Puri have demanded Gandhi’s apology as non-negotiable.
PM Narendra Modi himself without naming Gandhi recently said “some people are attacking Indian democracy because they can’t digest its success”.
Also for the BJP, the anti-Gandhi stand is now a full-blown poll plank in Karnataka where elections are to be announced anytime now.
These narrow alleyways of negotiation signal a Parliament washout.
The government can combine the ministry demands anytime now and pass the Finance Bill in Lok Sabha by a voice vote. The finance bill need not await passage in Rajya Sabha under rules which say the finance bill as referred to Rajya Sabha would be deemed passed after the lapse of 14 days.
The larger opposition is likely to attend Dhankhar’s meet on Thursday but a resolution is unlikely unless both sides agree to Dhankhar’s formula of taking a few steps back.
All eyes will be on the Dhankhar meet called at 10 am on Thursday.
Ahead of that, all opposition parties will meet at Rajya Sabha Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge’s chamber.
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