Modi asks party MPs to protest on April 12; Rahul fixes April 9 date.
New Delhi: It’s protest versus protest. Both the BJP and the Congress have decided to go on a fast accusing each other of dragging politics and parliamentary proceedings to a new a low.
Moments after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a fast by BJP MPs on April 12 to protest the impasse “caused” by Opposition parties in Parliament, the Congress asked its functionaries to hold a day-long fast at all state and district headquarters on April 9 to expose the BJP’s “lies” on various issues.
Protesting near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in Parliament complex, Union ministers blamed the Congress for disrupting proceedings in both the Houses on a day when the washed out second leg of the Budget Session came to an end. Both Houses were adjourned sine die, capping a month of relentless disruptions and stated to be the least productive since 2000 with nearly 250 working hours being wasted.
After the session’s end, BJP and Congress MPs stood facing each other near the Gandhi statue with placards and shouted slogans against each other.
The disruptions and adjournments during the session were caused by protests over special category status to Andhra Pradesh, bank scams, demand for Cauvery water management board, vandalising of statues, review of the recent Supreme Court order on the SC/ST Act and law and order situation in Kasganj, Uttar Pradesh.
During the session, merely five of 19 starred questions were orally answered by ministers in the Rajya Sabha. In the Lok Sabha, 17 of 580 such questions were answered in 29 sittings.
The Congress blamed the BJP-led government for not letting Parliament function and termed as “gimmick” and “drama” the move by NDA MPs to forgo their salary for 23 days when Parliament did not function.
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, alleged that the government and its allies were “orchestrating” disruptions and blaming the Congress for them.
On Friday morning, Congress MPs stayed away from tea hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to protest against her allegedly poor handling of disruptions in the House.
The Congress also gave a notice for breach of privilege against parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar for misleading the Lok Sabha over continued disruptions by naming its top leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
Giving the notice, Congress leader K.C. Venugopal alleged that the government was not interested in running the House.
“I would like to submit a breach of privilege notice against parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar for misleading the House and people regarding the ongoing disruption in the Lok Sabha,” the notice said.
Senior party spokesperson Anand Sharma said Rahul Gandhi has announced a plan to hold a fast on April 9 at all district headquarters to help promote peace, brotherhood and harmony in the country.
Addressing BJP MPs on the party’s foundation day, Mr Modi kept the Congress in his line of fire and accused it of taking parliamentary proceedings “to a new low”.
Briefing reporters on the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Union minister Ananth Kumar quoted the Prime Minister as saying that the Congress was “throttling” democracy and “abusing” people’s mandate.
Mr Modi said that the Congress’ opposition to him is turning “increasingly violent” due to the fact that people born in backward castes are in the country’s top positions and also because of the rivals’ discomfort with the BJP’s rising strength.
“They are unable to accept that the son of a poor mother can become Prime Minister. They are unable to accept that people born in backward castes can also occupy top positions in the country,” Mr Modi told BJP MPs.