All-party meet ends in deadlock as Indian govt says no to resignations
Aam Aadmi Party leader Bhagwant Mann at the all-party meeting at Parliament House in New Delhi.
New Delhi - Opposition demanded resignation of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister and other leaders embroiled in charges of corruption and wrongdoing.
The government on Monday rejected Congress demands for the resignation of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister and other leaders embroiled in charges of corruption and wrongdoing, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a national consensus on the land bill.
"The question of resignation does not arise. No one has done anything illegal or immoral," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told the media after an all-party meeting here.
"There is no question of accepting any ultimatum from anybody," he added, after the Congress pressed for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as well as the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh - Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan - for a smooth parliament session that begins on Tuesday.
"Nobody can dictate terms to parliament. Parliament is sovereign," Naidu said. "We are ready to discuss issues that the opposition wants to raise."
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who heads the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said that he hoped that Modi would announce the resignations of "scam-accused ministers" before parliament meets on Tuesday.
"Passing bills would (then) become very easy," Azad added, giving a clear hint of the Congress strategy. The Congress has been demanding the resignations of Sushma Swaraj and Raje over their alleged links with former IPL chief Lalit Modi, and of Chouhan over the Vyapam recruitment scam.
Addressing the all-party meeting earlier, Modi called upon all political parties to move forward on the land acquisition bill that has created a major national divide.
"All party leaders should move forward on the bill," he said.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy quoted Modi as saying that his government was willing to accept all "good suggestions" from opposition parties on various issues. He added that it was the collective responsibility of the parties to ensure a smooth functioning of parliament. But after the meeting ended, it was apparent that the government-opposition divide on the controversial land bill is unlikely to go away.
"The Samajwadi Party ... will continue to oppose it," its leader Ram Gopal Yadav said.
The meeting was attended by Azad, Ram Gopal Yadav, Janata Dal-United's Sharad Yadav, Bahujan Samaj Party's Satish Mishra and Communist Party of India - Marxist's Sitaram Yechury among others. Modi also meet National Democratic Alliance partners.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has also convened an all-party meet ahead of parliament's monsoon session.
BJP leaders held a series of meetings on Sunday evening to discuss the party's strategy for parliament. Modi also met party leaders and ministers on Sunday.
With the opposition threat to disrupt parliament, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said there was no threat to the ruling BJP from the Vyapam scam.
"There is absolutely no threat to the Bharatiya Janata Party," Sitharaman told reporters, referring to the government in Madhya Pradesh, when she was asked about the alleged recruitment scandal in the state.
"There is no basis to these complaints," she said of the Congress allegations that Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was to blame and must quit. "The chief minister's stand has been recognised and the CBI is investigating (the case)... The CBI will investigate, and we are fully prepared," Sitharaman added, while speaking to reporters here on the sidelines of an event at Ficci.