With Parliament not in session, the battle between the opposition and government has shifted to the parliamentary committees. At a meeting of the parliament committee of home affairs on DONER, i.e., the Northeast development project, the opposition had a heated confrontation with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led chairman. This was after the government secretary’s presentation said the core and objective of this strategy for the north-eastern states was “Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas”. Opposition members led by Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien protested and issued a copy of the BJP’s manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which had the same slogan on its cover.
According to opposition leaders, no presentation is allowed to showcase the party in power’s election manifesto in its slogans. This was completely rejected by the chairperson of the parliamentary committee as well as other BJP leaders, who pointed out that this was the Prime Minister’s motive and objective and therefore it cannot be seen as partisan or politically loaded.
The TMC has now decided to write to all government departments and ministries to tell them that this cannot be allowed and should be avoided. When asked, Derek O’Brien told News18, “We never use ‘Ma Mati Manush’ in any government programmes or policy presentations. The party can but the government cannot.”
The chairperson of the committee, Brijlal, refused to accept this argument, saying this was the PM’s vision and his vision cannot be described as mere politics.
But the fight between the two sides is bound to become acrimonious on many other issues. The winter session of Parliament has to be decided and some lawmakers from the Northeast and Christian MPs say they have been given very little time to prepare for Christmas. In fact, figures have been put out by many of these MPs to the Cabinet consistently to make the point that over the years the winter session of Parliament has ended just a day or two before Christmas and the second part of the session resumes in the first week of January, which means that they have to come back, cutting short their Christmas and New Year holidays.
The new Parliament building also promises to be the latest flashpoint between the government and the opposition leaders. Members like Derek O’Brien have made it very clear that it is not the opening of a new Parliament building but “closure of Parliament”. Sources say the new Parliament building will not have a central hall, which allowed easy mingling of both the opposition and ruling party MPs and also interaction with the media. Opposition leaders say this new building is yet another attempt being made by the government to ensure the parliamentary norms are compromised.
With inputs from News18