Congress offers to hold short sitting, discuss key issues after Parliament session…

Amid a blame game over the , the Congress has suggested to the government that a short sitting of both the Houses of Parliament could be held before the monsoon session, which usually starts in July, to discuss issues of national importance.

A senior Congress leader familiar with the development said the suggestion was given to the government’s floor managers on the last day of the budget session on Friday.

“We want a thorough discussion not only on anti-corruption bill but also on the bank frauds, the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) paper leak, the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, atrocities on Dalits, the agrarian crisis, growing unemployment and other important national issues,” the Congress leader added on condition of anonymity.

When asked about the Congress proposal, a BJP leader said, “We don’t have any official information about this proposal. Let them come out with it officially. It is a bit rich for the Congress to make this proposal now since they were the ones who did not engage in debate and discussion through the parliament session and wasted it.” This person spoke on condition of anonymity. The Congress’s offer came after the BJP squarely blamed the main opposition party for the washout of the second part of the budget session that commenced on March 5.

For their part, Congress leaders have maintained that the onus of smoothly running Parliament lies with the government. They also accused the BJP of running away from debates by “orchestrating the protests though its allies” in both the Houses.The several no-confidence motions against the government haven’t been taken up because the speaker says the house has been disorderly. The Congress says the BJP is using smaller regional parties such as the Telangana Rashtriya Samiti and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to create this disorder.

Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jyotiraditya Scindia have repeatedly stated that there has been no effort on the part of the government to reach out to opposition parties to break the logjam in Parliament.

Before making the offer on Friday, Congress MPs had also met Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and urged him not to prorogue or end the sitting of the House.

Both Houses of Parliament have been adjourned sine die (for an indefinite period).

Confirming the offer, Congress’ deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma said his party’s MPs had also requested Naidu to inform the government about their willingness to discuss in Parliament the critical issues confronting the country.

“We wanted debate, we wanted accountability and we shall continue to demand that,” he said.

“Today, we told the Rajya Sabha chairman to inform the government (of) our willingness to discuss all issues and reconvene Parliament for two weeks or ten days to debate these issues and bring important laws. The ball is in their (government’s) court now,” Sharma said.

Terming as a “gimmick” and “drama” the move by National Democratic Alliance MPs to forgo their salary for the 23 days Parliament did not function, the Congress leader dared the BJP members to “give up the salary or refund the salary” for the period they did not allow Parliament to function when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power.

“My advice to BJP is stop this hypocrisy; if you are honest about it, tell your MPs to refund their salaries for the period which they disrupted Parliament during UPA-I and UPA-II. This is my challenge” Sharma said.