The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday accused the Opposition of willfully stalling Parliament with its 'irresponsible' comments and 'unfounded' allegations to mislead the country amid global recognition of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership.
With the all-party meetings called by Rajya Sabha Chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla producing no breakthrough to end the deadlock in Parliament, Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Pralhad Joshi accused opposition parties of repeatedly 'insulting' Dhankhar.
The Congress hit back at the BJP, noting that Goyal, who is the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha, got the ruling party MPs to prevent Leader of Opposition in the House Kharge from speaking twice even after the Chairman had permitted him.
'Silencing of LoP is also an issue quite apart from the JPC on Adani,' Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter.
He added, 'How can the Opposition demand for a JPC into the PM-linked Adani scam be linked to the BJP's demand for an apology from Rahul Gandhi on totally baseless accusations. The JPC is on a real, documented scam. The apology demand is a hoax being raised to divert attention from the Adani scam.'
The Rajya Sabha chairperson personally called up several opposition leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress, to attend the meeting but they refused, Joshi said.
After almost the entire opposition except for regional parties like the Telugu Desam Party, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress and the Biju Janata Dal skipped the first meeting before the noon, Dhankhar called another meeting in afternoon.
"It is our prime duty to run the proceedings of House in an orderly manner," Dhankhar told political parties.
He has scheduled the next meeting of floor leaders on March 23.
Though some parties like the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam attended the second meeting after the chairperson's personal intervention, other opposition parties still kept away.
This is a 'great disrespect' to the Chair, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Joshi said.
Congress spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said since the Leader of Opposition was not allowed to speak by the ruling party MPs despite the chairman allowing him, the opposition leaders felt there was no need to attend the chairman's meeting and thus skipped it.
Most opposition parties, however, attended the meeting convened by Birla.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury represented his party in the meeting.
Sources said Birla asked the two sides to agree to let the House run and thrash out their differences outside.
They added that Joshi said the treasury benches will follow the Chair's decision.
However, several opposition parties have stuck to their guns on the demand for a probe in the Adani issue.
Joshi also later reiterated the BJP's demand for an apology from Rahul Gandhi for 'insulting' India on foreign soil, asserting that their demand is non-negotiable.
In the meeting, Rajya Sabha Chairman Dhankhar underlined that it is our prime duty to run the proceedings of the House in an orderly manner which is the essence of democracy and the expectation of the people.
During the one and half hour-long meeting, Dhankhar highlighted that the House is meant for debate and discussion in a collaborative manner, and not for confrontation and deadlock.
The first meeting was held at 11.30 am in which leaders of the BJP, the YSRCP, the BJD and the TDP were present.
However, floor leaders of other parties did not attend, the vice president's office said in a statement.
The Chief Whip of the Congress and also the floor leader of the DMK called on the chairman separately before the meeting and expressed their inability to attend the meeting convened by the Chairman, who indicated to these two leaders that this would not help the cause of democracy and his feelings be so conveyed to the leaders, the statement said.
However, there was absence of leaders from the Congress, the TMC, the DMK, the Aam Aadmi Party, the BJD, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Janata Dal-United, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Shiv Sena, the Communist Party of India, the Bharat Rashtra Samiti, the Asom Gana Parishad and others except for the BJP, the YSRCP, the BJD and the TDP in the first meeting, it said.
With Opposition members protesting over the Adani issue from the first floor of Parliament complex, Goyal said they were resorting to petty tactics to remain in headlines as they lacked any solid argument.
Goyal and Joshi told reporters that any meaningful discussion on the budget in Parliament is bound to draw positive response for the government and a further boost to Modi's standing.
Goyal said at a time when the Union budget has drawn all-round praise, Modi is being recognised as the most popular leader in the world and the BJP has won polls in northeast states, opposition parties, especially the Congress and its allies, are trying to mislead the country by making unfounded charges.
Hitting back, Ramesh said Kharge was given permission by the Chairman when the House proceedings began to speak. He got up to do so but was not allowed by sloganeering BJP MPs.
"Chairman then adjourned RS. How can the logjam be broken if Modi Government behaves like this," he said.