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Opposition parties show unity, slam Narendra Modi government for washout of Budget session’s 2nd half

NEW DELHI: Opposition parties, including the Congress, TMC, BRS and Samajwadi Party, came together in a show of unity on Thursday and accused the Narendra Modi government of getting the second half of the budget session ”washed out”, while asserting that if this attitude continues, the country will move towards ”dictatorship”.

With the tricolour in hand, several Opposition MPs marched from Parliament to Vijay Chowk and then representatives of 19 parties held a press conference at the Constitution Club where Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and other leaders resolved to take the Opposition unity further.

Kharge accused the Narendra Modi government of not walking the talk on democratic principles and causing disruptions in Parliament to divert attention from the Opposition’s demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the Adani issue.

In a boost to Opposition unity, the Trinamool Congress, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Samajwadi Party, which had been blowing hot and cold on sharing stage with the Congress on earlier occasions, participated in the march and the presser to give a joint call against the government on issues such as the Adani matter, price rise and alleged attack on democracy.

Most Opposition leaders also skipped Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s customary tea in his chamber in Parliament at the end of the session. However, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah and Nationalist Congress Party’s Supriya Sule were present for the tea.

In his remarks at the press conference, Kharge said, ”The budget of Rs 50-lakh crore was passed in just 12 minutes, but they (BJP) always alleged that the opposition parties have no interest and they kept disturbing the House.” ”The disturbance was created by the ruling party. Whenever we made a demand or gave a notice, we were not allowed to speak. This has happened for the first time in my public life of 52 years and never has such a thing happened earlier that treasury benches disrupted the House,” he said.

He said the government talks a lot about democracy, but it does not walk the talk.

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was the prime challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, DMK’s T R Baalu claimed that the BJP is jittery and after the Bharat Jodo Yatra it is afraid of Rahul Gandhi.

”It was because of the government’s hegemonic attitude they disrupted the House. First time treasury benches disrupted proceedings,” he said, adding that all issues would be discussed going forward and Opposition unity strengthened.

BRS MP K Keshava Rao said the parties on the podium had ”distance and differences” between them but were now working to come together.

”You have right before you all the Opposition parties who maintained some distance and had differences but today you are seeing how it is evolving. We are becoming so strong that all the efforts to divide us have failed. We are today united right before you on the ground,” he said.

”What happens tomorrow please let us leave it because we are working to see how we come together,” he said.

To a query on the Opposition’s leadership issue, Rao said, ”Why are you are always obsessed with the leadership issue, a nation will certainly be led by a person, led by a combination of ideologies and the programmes. What we are trying to do is to see that kind of programme is on the board that we are all on the same page.” AAP’s Sanjay Singh said the message behind Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification was clear that one can attack the Centre but not Adani ”for whom the government was working”.

Kharge said 18 to 19 opposition parties raised the Adani matter and how his wealth increased to Rs 12 lakh crore in just a period of 2 to 2.5 years.

”Why are you fearing from constituting a joint parliamentary committee probe even when the BJP will have its say as it will have majority members…Something is fishy, that is why the government is not agreeing to order a JPC probe into the Adani issue,” Kharge said.

He said the government did not answer on the Adani issue in Parliament and instead diverted attention by demanding Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s apology over his remarks in the UK.

The demand for the JPC probe was made to ensure transparency in the Adani case as MPs of opposition parties would have got an opportunity to inspect the documents related to the issue, the Congress chief said.

The government did not agree to JPC because ”daal mein kuch kaala hai” and they must be having connections with Adani, Kharge said.

He also raised the issue of Gandhi’s disqualification as member of Lok Sabha, saying while he was disqualified at ”lightning speed”, the BJP MP from Amreli was convicted and given a three-year sentence but was not disqualified immediately.

”We are fighting for justice, democracy and Constitution,” Kharge added.

The Congress chief thanked Opposition parties for their support on Gandhi’s disqualification from Lok Sabha.

”The government’s intention was to get session washed out, I condemn this attitude. If this attitude continues, democracy will be finished and we will slowly move towards dictatorship,” he said.

Kharge vowed that there will be unity going forward.

”Our issues are to save the country and work for the unity of the country. Modi ji keeps saying but he would not know the ground level that people are distressed due to inflation, unemployment, the changes in democracy,” he said in response to a query about Modi’s attack on the government.

”He (Modi) keeps saying but we will continue doing our job. We will keep uniting and fighting elections going forward,” he said.

Asked if going forward towards 2024 Adani and caste census would be key issues for the Opposition, Kharge said all issues will be discussed by presidents of the parties later.

”Caste census is one of our foremost agenda,” he added.

Earlier, holding the national flag, MPs of the Congress, DMK, TMC, JD(U), BRS, AAP, NCP, SP, RJD, CPI (M), CPI, IUML, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray), National Conference, RSP, RLD, JMM, KC (Mani), MDMK and VCK, started the march from Parliament House and walked up to Vijay Chowk. Sonia Gandhi too held the national flag at Parliament’s gate number 1 where all opposition MPs gathered before starting the march which was led by Kharge.

All parties except the NCP were later present at the press conference as well.

Source: Press Trust of India

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