Rajnath dials Kharge, but no end to impasse; Opp meets today

1 month ago 21
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Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
August 3, 2021 2:12:50 am

Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge

As the logjam in Parliament continued over the Pegasus snooping issue, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday spoke to Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and sought his cooperation to end the impasse. With the government not agreeing to a debate on Pegasus, the Opposition signalled that it was hardening its position and is drawing up plans to step up its offensive against the government.

The Opposition leaders — from as many as 17 parties from both Houses — will meet over breakfast on Tuesday on the invitation of senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to strategise on their next course of action. Sources said that some parties have proposed that the MPs hold a mock session in the Parliament premises to highlight what they called the stifling of their voices inside the two Houses.

The Opposition parties have been disrupting both houses of Parliament for two weeks, demanding a structured discussion on the snooping issue in the presence of either Prime Minister Narendra Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah. They want Shah to reply to the discussion.

Sources in the Opposition said Singh had signalled to Kharge last week that he would call a meeting of all parties to break the impasse after his return from Tajikistan, but that meeting did not happen. Opposition leaders feel that more strident sections in the government may have intervened to prevent such an outreach.

Singh on Monday reached out to Kharge but sources in the Opposition said he offered no concrete proposal to end the stalemate. “The government has to offer a proposal for us to respond. Seeking our cooperation to ensure smooth functioning of the House cannot be considered as a constructive engagement,” an Opposition leader said.

The Opposition leaders will meet on Tuesday to chalk out their course of action. After the breakfast at Constitution Club, sources said that the Opposition leaders could walk to Parliament, some 500 metres away, showing their unity.

Sources said the parties — having taken a public position that they want a discussion on the snooping issue to be replied to by the home minister, cannot now climb down and agree to let the House function. Amid the disruption, and the government refusing to hold a discussion over Pegasus and pushing Bills without discussion, the Opposition leaders want their “version to be heard by people as only the government version is coming out”.

Rahul’s breakfast invitation is also significant since it is seen as part of conscious efforts by him to engage more with Opposition leaders and lead the unity efforts from the front.

With inputs from Liz Mathew

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