On-going row over last week’s protest in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) dominated the meeting of major political parties called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday morning. The meet, seen as a reach out ahead of the Budgest session, saw the opposition demanding the Prime Minister to intervene in the issue. Besides PM Modi and senior cabinet ministers, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, BSP’s SC Mishra, SP’s Ramgopal Yadav, JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, Left front’s Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, and other leaders participated in the meeting held in Delhi.
“We strongly disassociate with all such students who shouted slogans attacking India’s unity and Constitution but there is no proof of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar, the arrested JNU Student Union president,” Ghulam Nabi Azad told.
Government, on its part, said that the “type of slogans raised in JNU is unacceptable” and the matter is under probe, as opposition claimed there were multiple views over the matter within the government. The Opposition also urged the government to protect the autonomy of educational institutions.
“Govt ready to walk extra mile to ensure discussion in Parliament on all issues raised by opposition,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu told the press after the meeting.
Severe political tiff has erupted over the issue, especially after the arrest of JNU student’s union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar over the charges of sedition. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh too kicked up a controversy after alleging that protest in JNU where some students allegedly raised ‘anti-India’ slogans was backed by terror group LeT’s chief Hafiz Sayeed.
Besides the issue of JNU, the incumbent Modi government at the centre has been facing heat over the issues like President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, Pathankot terror terror attack and suicide by a Dalit scholar at Hyderabad Central University (HCU) last month.
Last two sessions of the Parliament – Monsoon and Winter – witnessed a near washout, resulting in BJP-led NDA government struggling to get through its reforms agenda, especially the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill.
Though it wasn’t an all-party meeting, the senior parliamentarians of major political parties were invited after the government has come under a sustained opposition attack, especially the Congress party. The latter has even accused the Modi government of adopting a confrontational stand and failing to take other parties into confidence.
Incidentally, the meeting has come just a little over the week after sharp verbal exchange between the Congress and BJP over parliamentary proceedings.
At a rally in poll-bound Assam earlier this month, Prime Minister Modi had accused Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi of disrupting Parliament to “avenge” defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Hitting back the accusation, Ms Gandhi claimed that “efforts were made to suppress her party’s voice” whenever it tried to raise issues concerning the poor and common man in the House.
In an interview to a widely circulated news and current affairs magazine last week, former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh too accused the Modi government of not engaging Congress seriously to break the logjam over parliamentary business and pending legislations.
(With inputs from the Agencies)