Oppn shifting goalposts, creates disturbance when PM Modi speaks: BJP on demand for PM’s statement

New Delhi: With the opposition refusing to join a discussion in Rajya Sabha on the Manipur situation, the BJP on Monday slammed its demand for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement as a case of “shifting goalposts” and noted that its members have frequently disturbed him when he has spoken in Parliament in the past.

It is clear that the opposition has been shedding “crocodile tears” over the situation in the state, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters as both Houses of Parliament were adjourned following uproar over the demand by INDIA bloc parties that Modi should speak on the issue first before any discussion.

“When he (Modi) stands up to reply what noise and disturbance they create. They did not have the courtesy to listen to him. Today they insist. What an irony,” Sitharaman said, while her ministerial colleagues from the ruling party also hit out at the opposition over continuing disruptions in Parliament.

In his reaction, Union minister Piyush Goyal rejected the opposition’s criticism of the government for pushing its legislative agenda in Parliament and not taking up the no-confidence motion, saying neither rules nor precedents make it mandatory for the ruling party to prove its majority first.

The Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha told reporters that everyone knows the government enjoys a two-thirds majority in Lok Sabha and the numbers strongly favour it.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur accused the opposition of running away from a debate in Parliament on the ethnic violence in Manipur and wondered what was the use of getting elected if they wanted to raise issues on the streets.

Slamming the Opposition for its demand for Modi’s statement, Sitharaman said, “Why do you want to presume that everything has to start and end as per your demands? Are you concerned about Manipur or are you doing politics?”

She asked opposition parties to tell Parliament what they heard during their recent visit to the violent-hit northeast state.

They are shifting the goalposts, she said.

Like the black shirts they wore in protest, their intentions are also black, she added, criticising opposition members.

Manipur was hit by nearly a year-long blockade with the supply of essential commodities affected when the Congress was in power at the Centre and in the state, she said.

“Did any home minister go to Manipur then? Our Home Minister Amit Shah was there for three days. He visited relief camps, spoke to people and ensured that every relief is provided,” Sitharaman said.

Only a then minister of state for home had visited the state briefly during the Congress-led UPA rule, she said.

Several opposition members, including John Brittas, Manoj Kumar Jha and A D Singh, were listed as participants in the debate taken up in Rajya Sabha, she said, accusing their parties of doing politics over the state’s situation.

The opposition has been demanding that the debate be taken up under a rule which provides for voting and only after Modi speaks.

Several opposition members have also said that their no-confidence motion against the government should be taken up in Lok Sabha first and claimed that it is wrong for the treasury benches to push through bills before this.

There are no such rules, Goyal said, adding that precedents also do not support such an argument.

It is the Speaker’s prerogative to decide when to take up the no-confidence motion, and the government is ready whenever it is taken up, the minister said.

Congress MP Manish Tewari has claimed that all bills passed after the no-confidence motion was admitted in the Lok Sabha are “constitutionally suspect” and asserted that any substantive legislative business must succeed the outcome of the motion, not precede it.

The former Union minister also said the 10 days for scheduling a discussion on the no-confidence motion tabled in the Lok Sabha cannot be used to “steamroll” bills. Some other opposition members have echoed his view.

Goyal also hit back at the opposition bloc INDIA after its delegation of MPs highlighted people’s suffering in Manipur after visiting the state and demanded a discussion in Parliament, saying it is these parties that are running away from a debate.

“If you have to raise issues on the streets, then what is the use of getting elected to the House,” Thakur told reporters outside Parliament asserting that the government was ready for a debate on the situation in Manipur.

Home Minister Amit Shah had said that he was ready for a debate in Parliament on the Manipur situation.

“I would request the opposition to please come to the House, take part in the discussion. The government is ready to discuss whatever issue they want to raise. What is the compulsion of the opposition that it is running away from debate,” Thakur said.