Rahul Gandhi must be allowed to speak first, then talks can follow: Congress on logjam in Parliament

NEW DELHI, 22 Mar: The Congress on Wednesday claimed that the government wants the party to take back its demand for a JPC on the Adani issue and in return it would drop the call for an apology over Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in the UK, asserting there was no question of any such compromise.
Addressing a press conference, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said efforts are being made since the last few days that a “formula” or middle path is found with both the Opposition and the government relenting.
“This is unacceptable to us, these two things are completely unconnected. One is a reality. The questions we are asking are fundamental questions, this has happened. The BJP’s demand of apology is just baseless, it is on false allegations. So to say that you take back your demand then we will take back the demand for an apology, we are not ready for any such bargain,” he told reporters, noting that while no one from the government has talked directly to the opposition this is only being known unofficially.
He said Gandhi has written to the Speaker to be allowed to speak under rule 357 (in the Lok Sabha), saying it is his democratic right and what the speaker decides on it only time will tell.
“But to say that there is a formula, it is not acceptable to us. We are not agreeable to this because the two things are like ‘chalk and cheese’ between the demand for a JPC and a demand for an apology. The demand for apology that is being repeated, it is being done so that attention is diverted from the Adani issue. Their strategy is 3D — distort, defame and divert. They distorted Rahul Gandhi’s remarks, defamed him and now want to divert attention from the Adani issue,” he said.
To a suggestion by TMC leader Derek O’Brien that state governments can initiate investigation in their own states, Ramesh said, “It is laughable. Those who have given this suggestion, their only intention is to give a clean chit to the government.”
“This is the question at the doorstep of the prime minister. How can state governments probe into these issues, it is the responsibility of the central government. This is a non-serious suggestion. Those who have given this suggestion neither know about the economy nor politics,” he said.
The house is not being allowed to function, because the treasury benches and the government is disrupting both houses of Parliament and there is visual evidence, he said.
The Congress chief whip in Rajya Sabha said the chairman allowed the Leader of Opposition to speak but he was not allowed to speak. “Under these circumstances, what cooperation do they expect.”
In the Lok Sabha, he said Gandhi has been attacked and he has sought permission under rule 357 but he is not allowed to speak. He has met the Speaker but he is not being allowed to speak.
“If you want a way out of this impasse, this is only one way out that Mr Rahul Gandhi is permitted under rule 357 to make a statement. Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad was allowed to make a statement in 2015 when charges were made against him by then chief whip of Congress and Prasad was allowed to make his statement and Mr Gandhi has quoted this precedent,” he said.
If the government is serious to allow Parliament to function, allow Gandhi to make a statement in the Lok Sabha, he said. “Allow him to refute the baseless charges that have been hurled at him by senior ministers and then the house will function.”
“Linking the JPC demand which goes back a few days earlier and we started asking questions from April 5. Suddenly in order to divert attention from the JPC demand, the BJP has suddenly raised this bogus demand. It is a hoax, as Mr Gandhi never said all those things that he is being accused of.
“The first order of business is to give Rahul Gandhi a chance to respond to the scurrilous and baseless comments and how is the leader of the house in Rajya Sabha allowed to raise this issue of a member of the Lok Sabha. It has never happened. The leader of the house disrupts Rajya Sabha and gets his members of Parliament to disrupt for a statement made on a member of the Lok Sabha,” Ramesh said, alleging that that is why this whole thing is a part of an “orchestrated plan to derail and disrupt Parliament”, because the government does not want the JPC on the Adani issue.
“Withdrawal of JPC on Adani issue is non-negotiable and we are not even discussing that. We will not go behind on our demand for a JPC on Adani issue,” he said.
Asked if he sees a washout of the current session going by the deadlock in Parliament, Ramesh said, “It is the government’s primary responsibility to run Parliament. The government talks, but we have had no talks with the government.” (PTI)