Rajya Sabha Chairman calls meeting of floor leaders amid Parliament logjam

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NEW DELHI: With the BJP and opposition insisting on their demands, an early solution to the impasse in Parliament seems unlikely as the two Houses meet on Thursday in the second week of the second part of the budget session after a day’s break.

Rajya Sabha Chairman has called another meeting of floor leaders at 10 am on Thursday as part of consultations to break the logjam. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on Wedndesday that if the government is serious to allow Parliament to function, party leader Rahul Gandhi should be allowed to respond to BJP’s allegations against him.

With BJP insisting on apology from Rahul Gandhi over his remarks in UK, Congress MP Manickam Tagore on Wednesday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla seeking action against Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh over his alleged defamatory remarks about the former party chief.

“On March 13, when the Parliament was called into session and the members were assembled in the House, Rajnath Singh addressed the Lok Sabha and without offering any advance notice, made defamatory statements against Rahul Gandhi who is a Member of Parliament,” Tagore said in his letter to Birla.

“Rajnath Singh has clearly violated Rule 352 (ii) and Rule 353 of the LS Rules and the matter has to be taken up for action against him on priority,” he added.

The Congress leader also said that Rajnath Singh, while making defamatory and undignified statements has neither provided any source from where he had gathered the information nor has he presented any documentary or likewise evidence to support his claims against Rahul Gandhi.

“Such blatant character assassination of Rahul Gandhi is not only being allowed but encouraged since Rahul Gandhi has not been given any opportunity to defend himself or refute the allegations raised against him,” he added.

Congress Lok Sabha MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also earlier on March 13 requested Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to expunge the statement of Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Pralhad Joshi against Rahul Gandhi.

On his part, Rahul Gandhi has written to the Speaker seeking permission to speak in the House to respond to the allegations levelled at him by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

“I had written to you on March 17 seeking your permission to respond to totally baseless and unfair charges hurled at me by senior ministers in the Lok Sabha. I am making such a request again. I am seeking this permission under the conventions of Parliamentary practice, the constitutionally embedded rules of natural justice and Rule 357 of the Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha,” Gandhi said in his letter to the Speaker.

Congress on Wednesday indicated that a way to end the impasse in Parliament is to allow Rahul Gandhi to respond to BJP allegations. The party, however, said that there will be no compromise on demand of several opposition parties for JPC on Hindenburg-Adani row.

Jairam Ramesh said that talks can follow if Rahul Gandhi is allowed to speak in Lok Sabha and refute “baseless allegations” against him by ministers. He, however, said the party will not retreat from its demand for JPC. Jairam Ramesh said the BJP came up with bogus allegations against Rahul Gandhi to divert attention from the JPC demand.

“Their strategy is 3D — distort, defame and divert. They distorted Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, defamed him and now want to divert attention from the Adani issue,” he said.

He said efforts were on to find a middle path and the opposition parties will not budge from their demand for a JPC on Adani issue.

Asked about a suggestion from a Trinamool Congress leader hat state governments can initiate investigation on Adani issue, Ramesh said it is laughable and intention of such suggestions could be giving a clean chit to the government.

He said the questions relating to the Adani issue are at the doorstep of the Prime Minister and state governments cannot probe it.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar called a meeting of the floor leaders of different political parties in Rajya Sabha twice on Monday in an attempt to break the logjam in the House over the issues raised by both ruling as well as opposition parties.

The first meeting was held at 11.30 am in which leaders of BJP, YSRCP, BJD and TDP were present. However, Floor Leaders of other Parties did not attend.

The second meeting was attended by leaders of several opposition parties apart from BJP. The Chairman has scheduled the next meeting of floor leaders at 10 am on March 23 as part of further consultations.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had on Tuesday sought to compare Rahul Gandhi to Mir Jafar, who went betrayed Siraj-ud-Daulah in the Battle of Plassey and helped the East India Company. Patra said Gandhi will have to apologise for his remarks made in the United Kingdom.

The parliament has seen continuous disruptions since the start of the second part of the budget session on March 13 with the BJP demanding apology from Rahul Gandhi and opposition parties insisting on joint parliamentary committee probe on Adani issue.

The two Houses did not meet on Wednesday due to festivals of Ugadi, Gudi Padava, Chaitra Sukladi, Cheti Chand, Navreh and Sajibu Cheiraoba. (ANI)

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