Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told an all-party meet that the government was ready to discuss all issues of national importance in the Winter session of Parliament as the Congress asserted that the opposition will press for a JPC probe into the Rafale jet deal.
NDA ally Shiv Sena also pitched for a law on construction of a Ram temple at Ayodhya during the meeting, attended by floor leaders of various political parties from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, and convened by the government a day ahead of the Winter session.
Asserting that government is always receptive to the issues raised by parties, the Prime Minister said the government and the opposition have to cooperate with each other so that Parliament functions smoothly which is in public interest.
Briefing reporters on the nearly two-hour long meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said all parties were in favour of a productive session and the government is always ready to discuss any issue as permitted under rules.
Shiv Sena representative in the meeting Chandrakant Khaire said his party would not allow parliament to function if the government does not bring bill for construction of Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhaya.
The Sena has 18 members in Lok Sabha and three in Rajya Sabha.
However, when asked about Sena’s demand, Tomar did not give a specific reply and said temple issue was not on the agenda of the all-party meet.
After the meeting, Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, the opposition will press for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the Rafale jet deal and raise several issues, including the misuse of probe agencies and autonomy for RBI, in the winter session.
He said, the opposition will once again press for the formation of a JPC to look into the Rs 58,000 crore Rafale jet deal in which it has alleged corruption.
Azad told reporters that the issue of alleged misuse of probe agencies by the government to settle political scores will also be raised.
Congress, TDP and TMC have alleged in the recent past that probe agencies including CBI and ED are being used by the government to settle political score.
The opposition, he said, will take up the issue of autonomy of the Reserve Bank of India in the session.
Amid a tussle between the government and the RBI, opposition parties have accused the NDA regime of trying to damage every institution in the country by interfering in their autonomy and alleged the central bank was being forced to “open bank funding” to defaulting corporates.
Significantly, RBI Governor Urjit Patel quit, within hours after the all-party meeting.
At the meeting, Azad along with Aam Admi Party’s Sanjay Singh raised the issue of sanctity of the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM).
Azad said he told the meeting that the government has to settle the EVM issue in a bid to establish the credibility of the electronic process.
The AAP leader also alleged that the sanctity of polls was “under question” in view of “manipulation” of the EVMs.
“I demanded paper ballots for the coming elections as there are reports about EVMs being found at highways and the house of a political leader,” Singh said.
A statement from the parliamentary affairs ministry said the Prime Minister “encouraged” parties to strive to create a “constructive atmosphere” in the Winter session and to collectively address issues related to the welfare of people.
“It is a prime responsibility for all of us to contribute to the service of the nation and its people by ensuring smooth functioning of Parliament,” the statement said quoting the Prime Minister.
“There was a consensus across party lines on ensuring smooth functioning of the Parliament without disruptions and deadlocks to be resolved through constructive discussions in both the Houses,” the statement said.
At the meeting, the Trinamool Congress urged the government not to rush through bills without examination in Parliament and raised issues such as the breakdown of institutions, chaos in the economy, fuel price hike and the lack of jobs.
Sources in TMC said that many present in the meeting suggested to the government to keep Parliament proceedings suspended between December 24 to January 1, which they claimed has been a tradition.
In the original schedule, Parliament will have sittings on December 24, 26 as well as on January 1. However, according to sources, the government, will take a final call after considering the issue based on precedents of not having sitting on these dates.
Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav also alleged that farmers are being “robbed” in BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh and added that Dalits and backward classes are not getting the benefits of reservation in the state.
“The government says that Parliament should function. We also want it to function and find solutions to these issues. But if these issues are not allowed to be raised and discussed, then the Samajwadi Party would not allow the House to run,” Yadav said.
Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu had also convened a meeting of floor leaders of parties in the upper house for smooth conduct of proceedings.