Government calls for meeting with Opposition on suspended Rajya Sabha MPs

Parties yet to decide on attending meeting with Pralhad Joshi

Floor leaders of parties whose Rajya Sabha MPs are among the 12 lawmakers suspended for the entire winter session of Parliament, have been asked to attend a meeting on Monday morning with Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi to discuss a way out of the parliamentary logjam.

Opposition leaders, however, say the call to attend this meeting will have to be taken as a group.

Floor leaders of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPI, CPI(M) and Shiv Sena confirmed that they had received missives from Mr. Joshi calling for a meeting.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has responded to Mr. Joshi saying it is “unfortunate and unfair” to invite only leaders of parties whose MPs have been suspended rather than all opposition party leaders. His strong pitch for opposition unity for once was echoed by the Trinamool Congress which has so far kept away from joint opposition strategy meetings called by the Congress.

“Monday morning stunt from a government who do not want Parliament to function. Government calls leaders of the four opposition parties whose 12 Rajya Sabha MPs have been arbitrarily suspended. Government leaves other 10 opposition parties out. Failed stunt. All opposition clear: first revoke arbitrary suspension,” tweeted Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien.

Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut also confirmed that Mr. Joshi had written to his party and added that “opposition leaders will meet in Parliament tomorrow to take a decision on taking part in the meeting called by the government.”

While the TMC may not join a meeting of Opposition leaders scheduled for 9.45 a.m. on Monday due to its differences with the Congress on the leadership of the Opposition grouping, other parties have said they may attend.

Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu had on Friday asked Mr. Joshi to work over the weekend to find a solution to the parliamentary impasse in that House due to the suspension of the 12 MPs.

Opposition leaders said Mr. Joshi’s late invitation for a talk appears to be a token effort, and not really a sincere desire to heal the breach between the treasury and the opposition.

There are four sittings left for the Winter Session to conclude and important bills including the Electoral Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to link Aadhar to electoral rolls and the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, raising the age when women can legally marry to 21 years have been listed in the government’s agenda.

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