Union minister Vijay Goel on Thursday met opposition leaders, including Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, at their residence in an effort to break the logjam in Parliament, which has been paralysed for 14 days due to protests by various parties.
IMAGE: Union minister Vijay Goel meets Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad at his residence. All photographs: Kind courtesy @VijayGoelBJP
His meeting with Azad, V Maitreyan, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader in the Upper House, and Telugu Desam Party leader Y S Chowdary came after he asserted at a press conference that the government is willing for a discussion on no-confidence motions against it as it has a strong majority in the Lok Sabha.
He said he will meet key opposition leaders, including from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and the Trinamool Congress, to persuade them to call off their protest in Parliament.
Official sources said Goel had an hour-long meeting with Azad and will meet more leaders on Friday.
The second leg of the Budget Session has been a washout in both the Houses of Parliament since it started on March 5 as protests by various parties over a number of issues have stalled the proceedings, causing daily adjournments.
Wondering why opposition leaders were debating on television and not in the House, Goel noted that over Rs 2.5 lakh is spent per minute to run Parliament, and asked opposition parties to raise and debate the issues in the two Houses.
IMAGE: Goel also met his estranged ally, Telugu Desam Party's Y S Chowdary.
The second leg of the budget session is of 23 days and all 14 days so far have been wasted, Goel said.
"I have been meeting opposition leaders in Parliament and will now visit their homes to persuade them to call off their protests and start a discussion on their issues" in the two Houses, he said.
On issues like the Punjab National Bank scam, the government has more to tell the people than the opposition, he claimed and said the Modi government has been an honest dispensation which has worked against corruption.
"Parliament is meant for debate. It is sad that opposition leaders can debate outside and on TV channels but not in Parliament. It is also strange for some of them to keep protesting in the well of the two Houses and then say that it is the government's job to run them," he said.
Arjun Ram Meghwal, who is also a junior minister for parliamentary affairs, said it is difficult for the speaker to take up notices for no-confidence motions as long as members are present in the well as she is required to do a head-count of members supporting the notices.
IMAGE: Goel met AIADMK leader V Maitreyan and discussed ways to end the current logjam.
The Telugu Desam Party and the YSR Congress have given notices for no confidence motion against the government following the Centre's stand that it cannot provide special category status to Andhra Pradesh.
Several parties have been protesting in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha over various of issues such as banking scam, Cauvery board, special status to Andhra Pradesh and quota hike, leading to daily adjournments.
A large number of bills, including on triple talaq, whistleblower protection and OBC Commission, are pending in Parliament. The Lok Sabha passed the crucial Finance Bill without any discussion. A couple of other bills have also been pushed in the two houses amid the din.
With opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha agreeing to the passage of a bill that allows enhanced gratuity benefits to workers, Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar expressed his thanks to them and said a similar atmosphere should prevail in Parliament for the rest of the session.