Oppn ‘cold’ to Prez, PM appeal on Parl logjam
The Budget session on Tuesday began with President Pranab Mukherjee cautioning against the frequent disruptions and obstructions in Parliament and urged MPs to function in a spirit of cooperation. Speaking at the customary Presidential Address to the joint session of both houses of Parliament, delivered at the beginning of the first session of a new calendar year, Mukherjee asserted that Parliament reflected the supreme will of the people. While he outlined the government’s agenda for the coming financial year, the President steered clear off any direct reference to contentious issues like the JNU row, suicide by Dalit scholar Rohit Vehmula or the Jat agitation.
“Our Parliament reflects the supreme will of the people. Democratic temper calls for debate and discussion, and not disruption of obstruction. My government will constantly strive for smooth and constructive conduct of Parliamentary business. I urge all Members of Parliament to discharge their solemn responsibilities in a spirit of cooperation and mutual accommodation. Let us all collectively endeavour to build a flourishing and prosperous India,” he said in his 75-minute speech. “Let noble thoughts come from all directions, should be the spirit behind the debate in this temple of democracy. Being a member of this great institution bestows great honour as well as important responsibilities,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his brief remarks to media on the first day of a Parliament session hoped that it would be a fruitful one. “The eyes of 125 crore countrymen are focused on Parliament, the rail budget and the general budget. World is also paying attention to the Budget Session due to India’s position in the global economy today. There has been discussion with parties for the last many days. Talks have been held by rising above formalities. One-on-one talks have also taken place. I am sure Parliament session will be utilised for constructive debate and there will be intensive discussion on the country’s hope and aspirations. In our meetings, friends from opposition have shown positive attitude. In the session beginning today and in the coming days, people will feel it,” said Modi.
The Opposition dismissed the President’s address for being “disappointing” and criticized him for being silent on major issues like the JNU row, “misuse” of sedition laws and Jat quota stir. The CPI(M) said the President’s address covered everything except “major issues like price rise, JNU and Jat agitation” and that the party would move amendments to it to raise these serious matters. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “Misuse of sedition clauses, border issues, Hyderabad incident. Nothing were mentioned. President’s speech did not reflect any of these issues.”
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said, “I heard President’s address in Parliament. He spoke about government’s achievement but nothing on Rohit’s issue (suicide of Dalit student in Hyderabad), what’s happening in the universities.” Countering the criticism, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government did not need a certificate from Congress. “We have to get it from the people of India and people have given us certificate that we are working in the right direction,” he said.
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