INDIA’s demand for discussion on Manipur in Parliament non-negotiable: Congress

Jairam Ramesh said opposition parties are going into the Monsoon Session, starting Thursday, with a positive mindset

The opposition’s demand for a discussion on the situation in Manipur during the Monsoon Session is “non-negotiable”, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on Wednesday, asserting that the government must shun its “my way or the highway” approach and follow a middle path for smooth functioning of Parliament.

In an interview with PTI, Congress general secretary in-charge communications also said his party will oppose the bill that would be brought in to replace the Delhi ordinance, which he alleged “curtails constitutional rights and responsibilities of the elected government”.

He said that during a Parliament session, all opposition parties come together and decide the strategy, and after the Bengaluru meeting, their enthusiasm has increased, Ramesh said. “A new enthusiasm has come, we have got a new name. We are not ‘opposition party’, we are the ‘INDIA Party’ now. We are opposition because we are opposing the ruling BJP but we are part of this alliance INDIA,” Ramesh said.

Ramesh said opposition parties are going into the Monsoon Session, starting Thursday, with a positive mindset but asserted that the primary responsibility of getting Parliament to function is that of the government of the day. The session is scheduled to end on August 11.

In a parliamentary democracy, the opposition must have its say and the government will have its way, the Congress’ chief whip in Rajya Sabha said. Asked if it will be the INDIA (Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance) versus the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Parliament session also, Ramesh said, “Every morning (during Parliament sessions) all opposition parties meet in the chamber of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge. So every session we coordinate our strategy, and this session is not going to be any different.”

“Yesterday, we had a meeting of 26 parties that make up the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) — they all agreed… On the issues that are going to be taken up in Parliament. Manipur is number one. Hundreds of people have been killed, thousands have been displaced, lakhs are living in relief camps, the prime minster is silent, the home minister (Amit Shah) has been ineffective, the chief minister (N Biren Singh) has been a disaster, the double engine government has completely destroyed Manipur,” he said.

The Congress has been seeking a response from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Manipur issue, which is facing ethnic violence since May 3 and has seen many fatalities. Attacking the prime minister over the Manipur issue, Ramesh said he is taking a meeting on the eight cheetah deaths but there is no expression of concern from him on the situation in the northeastern state.

Ramesh stressed that the prime minister should participate in the debate on Manipur. “We call ourselves the mother of democracy, what sort of mother of democracy we have when the prime minister is not speaking, when he is not even attending (Parliament), when issues of public concern are not allowed to be raised, when issues of public concern are not being allowed to be raised, when remarks are being expunged,” the Congress leader said. Ramesh also termed the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha as “an act of extreme political vendetta”.

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