Congress miscues opening shot

The Asian Age.  | Ashhar Khan

India, Politics

The Congress was represented by deputy leader Anand Sharma, who also agreed to hold the discussion.

Congress leader Anand Sharma speaks in the Rajya Sabha on the opening of the winter session of Parliament in New Delhi. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Congress found itself in a fix when the discussion on demonetisation started in Rajya Sabha on Monday. The feeling within the Congress members in the house was that the former finance minister P. Chidambaram should start the discussion. As Congress members thought that no discussion would take place on Monday, they were not prepared. However, before the proceedings of the House began, there was a floor-leaders meeting in which the government was ready for a discussion. The Congress was represented by deputy leader Anand Sharma, who also agreed to hold the discussion.

A Congress MP said, “we were not ready with the discussion as we were told that no discussion will take place.” Many feel that this was a departure from the existing strategy of the Congress.

The thinking in the Congress camp was that, since it was the Prime Minister who introduced demonetisation, he should be the one to be cornered. Another Congress MP said, “It would have been politically sound had we insisted on the presence of the Prime Minister.” Since the Prime Minister is usually not present for discussions in the Rajya Sabha, it would have suited the Congress politically. The feeling in the Congress is that the discussion would have had much more impact if, instead of Anand Sharma, the first speaker would have been Mr Chidambaram. Mr Sharma spoke for close to fifty minutes, so if Mr Chidambaram was asked to speak after that, the duration would have been much less. On the first day in the House, the Congress missed its chance in the Rajya Sabha.

If that is not ensured, ruckus in the House is expected. Also, the Congress is likely to demand a joint parliamentary committee to examine selective leakage of information to some BJP leaders on demonetisation.