While the Congress will go on fast on April 9, BJP MPs will go on a day-long fast on April 9.
After a washout of the budget session of Parliament that ended on Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress blamed each other for the impasse and announced countrywide fasts as protest even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the opposition party of taking parliamentary proceedings “to a new low”.
While Modi announced that National Democratic Alliance MPs would hold a fast on April 12 to protest the opposition’s behaviour in Parliament, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi told party workers to hold a fast on April 9 to “expose” the BJP’s “lies” on the issue.
Addressing BJP MPs on the party’s foundation day, Modi kept the Congress in his line of fire and spelt out an exercise by party lawmakers and ministers for reaching out to villages with substantial Dalit and tribal population through implementation of his government’s seven key welfare schemes.
Modi at the BJP parliamentary party meeting accused the Congress of paralysing Parliament proceedings during the Budget Session that ended today, and said it was “throttling” democracy and “abusing” people’s mandate.
Briefing reporters on the meeting, Union minister Ananth Kumar quoted the prime minister as saying that while the BJP’s strength has been rising, the opposition, especially the Congress, has resorted to “divisive and negative” politics.
Parliamentary proceedings stooped to a new low due to the conduct of the Congress, Modi said.
All BJP MPs will observe a day long fast on April 12 to protest the opposition’s conduct in Parliament, he said.
On the other hand, Gandhi directed party workers to organise nationwide fast to protect and promote harmony among various sections on April 9.
In a letter to all PCC chiefs, party general secretary Ashok Gehlot said “peace and harmony have been embodied in the soul of this country and the responsibility to uphold it lies with the Congress”.
He said what has happened on April 2 during Bharat bandh was very unfortunate and it was very dangerous for the social fabric of this country and blamed BJP-ruled Centre and state governments for not initiating steps to curb violence neither to protect the fraternity.
“Therefore, it becomes even more important for the Congress to lead the nation in tough time,” he said.
At the AICC briefing, senior party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma hit back at the BJP and held it responsible for not letting Parliament function and termed as a “gimmick” and “drama” the move by NDA MPs to forgo their salary for 23 days when Parliament did not function.
The Congress leaders said their party MPs had met Rajya Sabha chairman requesting him that the house should not be prorogued so that it can be reconvened for two more weeks to discuss issues of national importance as they could not be taken up due to disruptions.
Sharma alleged that the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were spreading hatred in society through their “divisive” agenda. The Congress “will expose it” and their chief Rahul Gandhi has appealed to the public to maintain peace and harmony in society, he said.
Kharge also alleged that it was the government and its allies which were disrupting the Lok Sabha and questioned why members causing disturbance were not suspended and the no-confidence motions taken up for discussion.
The government and its allies were “orchestrating” disruptions and blaming the Congress for it, he alleged.
“Government encouraged its allies to disrupt proceedings which resulted in the Houses being adjourned day after day in the session, within seconds of the ruckus created at government’s behest.
“We gave prior notice under the rules of Parliament. The Government is sole responsible for disruption of parliament and now ‘the thief is blaming the cop’”, Kharge said.
Sharma said, “One thing we want to make absolutely clear with truth and force of facts at our command that Congress is not responsible for the disruption. We wanted debate, we wanted accountability and we shall continue to demand that.”
“Today we have told the Chairman of Rajya Sabha to inform the Government that we are willing, do not prorogue the Houses; they have been adjourned only sine die. Reconvene the Parliament for two weeks or ten days to debate these five issues and to legislate, bring the important Laws.
“We have said the ball is in their court. This is what we have conveyed today and we are informing you,” he said.