Defence Minister Rajnath Singh with Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi and other leaders during an all-party meeting / Photo: PTI
New Delhi: Opposition parties on Monday raised the Adani issue and the conduct of governors in some states ruled by them at an all-party meeting on the eve of Parliament's Budget Session as the government asserted it was willing to discuss every matter allowed by rules and sought their cooperation.
With several regional parties signalling their intention to raise these issues besides unemployment, price rise and the Centre's alleged bias in sharing revenue with states, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said the government has always been positive to discussing every topic but maintained that it should be held under the rules and with the Chair's permission.
"We seek the opposition's cooperation in running Parliament smoothly," Joshi told reporters after the meeting which was attended by 37 leaders, representing 27 parties. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh attended the meeting.
As most Congress leaders were busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra's conclusion, the main opposition party was not represented in the meeting. A Congress leader who had to be present could not reach. Joshi said its floor leaders are likely to meet him on Tuesday to convey their views.
The meeting saw Aam Aadmi Party's Sanjay Singh, RJD's Manoj Jha and leaders representing other opposition parties like the Shiv Sena faction headed by Uddhav Thackeray, the BRS, DMK and the Left raising the Adani issue and seeking discussion on it during the session. Sources said the BRS is also reaching out to some opposition parties for boycotting the President's address to the joint sitting of Parliament to lodge its protest against the government over various issues.
The US-based short seller Hindenburg Research has accused the Adani Group of several wrongdoings like stock manipulation and fraud. The company has dismissed the allegations as "nothing but a lie".
Jha and Singh told reporters that public sector insurance firm LIC has invested a huge sum of money in the Adani group of companies. Sum running into lakhs of crores has been sinking, Singh said, noting crores of people have invested their money in different LIC schemes.
"There is no statement from the government. It must discuss the issue," Jha said.
Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said space must be given to opposition parties in Parliament and the legislature should not be used merely for passing bills.
Speaking to reporters, he alleged discrimination by the Centre in passing the state's share of revenue and also expressed concern over price rise and unemployment.
Parties like the YSR Congress, Bharat Rashtra Samithi, Biju Janata Dal and the TMC, in power in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and West Bengal respectively, made a fresh pitch for the passage of a bill ensuring quota for women in legislatures.
The YSR Congress also demanded a nationwide caste-based economic census at the meet with its leader Vijaysai Reddy asserting that it is necessary to know the economic status of the backward castes who are "lagging behind" on social and development indicators.
Reddy said the backward castes are more than 50 per cent of the total population and the census will help find their economic status.
The ruling party in Andhra Pradesh has joined the likes of the JD(U) and the RJD, both of which have demanded a caste census for similar reasons. The grand alliance government in Bihar has rolled out a state-wide caste survey.
Parties including the TRS, TMC and the BJD also supported the demand. Bandyopadhyay also spoke about the issue of ban on a controversial BBC documentary on the 2002 riots in Gujarat.
The BSP raised the issue of the border row involving China. However, government sources cited security implications to rule out a discussion on the issue.
The BRS and the DMK which govern Telangana and Tamil Nadu raised the issue of conduct of governors in their respective states.
The Budget Session will begin from January 31 with President Droupadi Murmu's address to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The session will have 27 sittings and will continue till April 6 with a month-long recess to examine the budget papers.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will present the Union Budget on February 1.
The first part of the Budget Session will conclude on February 14.
Parliament will reconvene on March 12 for the second part of the Budget Session. PTI