NEW DELHI: With proceedings in Rajya Sabha virtually stalled since the start of the monsoon session, chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday tried to broker peace during a meeting with Opposition leaders, assuring them that a discussion on price rise is likely next week after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is recovering from Covid, returns to Parliament.
Sources said a broad understanding was reached during Naidu’s meeting with leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and KC Venugopal (both Congress), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Derek O’Brien (TMC), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena), Elamaram Kareem (CPM), Binoy Viswam (CPI), Suresh Reddy (TRS) and MDMK’s Vaiko. The government was represented by Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Pralhad Joshi and V Muraleedharan.
It came a day after the unprecedented suspension of 19 Opposition MPs from the upper House on Tuesday, the highest single-day count in the history of the House, which was followed by the suspension of AAP member Sanjay Singh on Wednesday. Earlier, four Congress members were suspended for the rest of the session.
Earlier, the Opposition rebuffed an invite from Goyal, who is the leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, to discuss the stalemate, saying they would prefer a “neutral venue” — chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s chamber—for the meeting.
The Opposition leaders sought revocation of the suspension and a specific date for discussion on price rise. The ministers said the government is ready for a discussion on price rise once the finance minister resumes work. They said the schedule for discussion in both Houses will be finalised in consultation with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla. Naidu also conferred with Sitharaman separately, enquiring about her health and as to when she would be ready for a reply to any debate on price rise.
Opposition leaders also insisted that a discussion on price rise be held after the suspension of MPs is revoked, or after the suspension period ends this week.
According to Naidu, revocation of suspension will only be considered if the erring members regret their misconduct in the House. In Lok Sabha too, the government maintained that the suspension of Opposition MPs can be revoked by the Chair if they apologise and assure they would not show placards in the House.
“We have been maintaining that the government is ready for discussion on price rise and today finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman resumed her office after recovering from Covid,” Joshi said and added, “We can start discussion from today.”
Later in the Lok Sabha opposition MPs TMC’s Sudeep Bandhopadhyay and DMK’s R Raja said Joshi they could take responsibility of members of their parties but not others.