Under Opposition fire ever since it demonetised notes of higher denomination, the government Wednesday reached out to rivals, seeking a discussion to end the deadlock in Parliament where protests have washed out proceedings for a week now.
Senior ministers Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley will meet floor leaders of all Opposition parties Thursday morning to explore possibilities of resuming House proceedings.
On Wednesday, exchanges between the treasury benches and the Opposition over the rule under which a debate on demonetisation should take place stalled Lok Sabha while Rajya Sabha witnessed repeated adjournments with the Opposition demanding the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House.
The government refused to take up a debate under a rule which entails voting at the end while the Opposition, which did not appear to be united on the vote issue, insisted on an adjournment motion.
The PM was present in Lok Sabha Wednesday since questions relating to the departments he handles were to come up in the lower House. He is likely to be in Rajya Sabha Thursday during question hour.
In Lok Sabha, the ruling BJP managed to bring on board allies Shiv Sena and SAD (Badal) which had reservations on the demonetisation rollout. Leaders of both parties said that they would settle for a discussion under Rule 193 which is the government’s preference. On the opening day of the winter session, Shiv Sena MPs had joined a Trinamool Congress protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The AIADMK, which had stayed away from protests inside the House, joined the Congress, Left, TMC, SP, BSP, DMK, JD(U) and other parties at a demonstration staged before the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the premises of Parliament House. When Lok Sabha met in the morning, the Prime Minister was present in the House. He watched as Congress and TMC MPs rushed to the well, shouting slogans and raising placards. Congress MPs also had two big banners, one with a slogan that also questioned the “absence” of the Prime Minister in the House.
Congress MPs paid no heed to repeated warnings from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that banners in the House violated its rules. “You are such a responsible party, you are doing all these things. I am sorry. This is not fair,” she said, adding that the issue could be taken up after question hour. As she took up questions and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad began replying, Opposition MPs raised a din to shut out the minister’s response. The PM remained on his seat for a few minutes after the House was adjourned at 11.06 am. He was seen talking to I&B minister M Venkaiah Naidu and parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar.