Role reversal for Congress-BJP as parliament faceoff continues

New Delhi


The ongoing battle in parliament appeared to be witnessing a role reversal of sorts between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress with both the parties blaming each other for the stalemate on Friday.

Similar to the logjam witnessed during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's days when many parliamentary sessions were washed out, no major business could be transacted in the first four days of the monsoon session.

Not just the opposition, the government also appeared equally aggressive, countering din with din, and slogans with slogans.

On Friday, the Modi government, staring at a completely washed out monsoon session, blamed the Congress for being an irresponsible opposition.

The Congress was quick to remind the BJP how it disrupted parliament for weeks in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Congress leader Anand Sharma accused the BJP and especially Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of "suffering a collective loss of memory".

Sharma told IANS that the BJP should remember how it had disrupted parliament over various demands during its 10 years in opposition.

"They spoilt many sessions of parliament when they were in opposition. The accusations against us are baseless," Sharma said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, however, denied this.

"There is no similarity to when we protested and the way they are protesting. We had clear demands. We wanted JPC (referring to the 2010 winter session when BJP pressed for a JPC on the 2G scam), we wanted discussions. One wonders what they (Congress) want," Naqvi told IANS.

Renuka Chowdhary, Congress MP from the Rajya Sabha, said: "There is no similarity... we don't want to disrupt parliament. We have given the government a choice. Our demand for resignation to ensure fair probe is natural justice."

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja, however, said: "One cannot help but draw a parallel... but the issues and situation are different. Government is here giving tit for tat instead of listening to the opposition. They are also creating a ruckus, parliament can't function this way".

As compared to the last few parliament sessions of the UPA, the National Democratic Alliance government had seen better productivity in its first year in office as far as legislative business was concerned, according to statistics.

"The BJP was an irresponsible opposition. If in the last one year of the NDA government, any bill was passed, then the credit goes to the Congress," Anand Sharma said.

Reiterating the demand for the resignations of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the yardstick was set by the BJP when it was in opposition.

"When there are charges of corruption, why shouldn't the minister demit office? These people should demit office or they are to be removed from office. That was the yardstick when BJP was sitting there as the opposition," he said.

"Leader of the House (Arun Jaitley) today was the Leader of the Opposition (earlier)and the Leader of the Opposition (Ghulam Nabi Azad) today was the minister in the then government," he said.

During the UPA rule, disruptions over issues like the allocation of 2G spectrum, coal blocks, FDI in retail, demand for Telangana, and the Commonwealth Games had marred the 15th Lok Sabha, making it the least productive session in 50 years.

The two houses on average worked for only 61 percent of the allotted time.

The newly elected NDA government has had a good track record of running parliament so far, with the budget session this year being the most productive in recent years, according to PRS Legislative Research.

During the budget session, Lok Sabha's working hours compared to scheduled hours took the productivity to 123 percent, while Rajya Sabha had 101 percent productivity. - IANS