New Delhi: The Congress party does not want any “unnecessary disruptions” during the upcoming winter session of parliament, according to a top leader of the party.
Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha says that his party is all for peaceful discussion on issues of national importance, but the onus of ensuring smooth functioning of Parliament would be on the BJP.
“We are ready to cooperate (on running the house smoothly) but the obligation of it would be on the BJP,” Kharge told IANS in a telephonic interview.
The winter session of parliament begins on November 26 and will last till December 23.
The Congress leader, when asked about the impact of Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in Bihar assembly polls on Parliament, said no party wanted disruptions in the house but the BJP cannot go on “bulldozing (the Opposition) in the Lok Sabha” just because it has a majority.
“They would have to make it a bilateral process. (They) would have to discuss issues with opposition parties before proceeding ahead,” he said, accusing the ruling alliance of not taking the Opposition into confidence in the past which resulted in problems in the Rajya Sabha.
Kharge said that the Congress party would meet either on November 25 or 26 to decide its strategy. He said his party would also discuss the issues with all opposition parties before the session begins.
The Congress leader stressed several times that the Opposition would not try to disrupt parliamentary proceedings unnecessarily.
“There would be no unwarranted disruptions,” he said, adding that they would raise various issues, including inflation, atrocities on Dalits and the Dadri incident.
“We want public grievances to be highlighted,” he said.
On being asked about BJP’s comment that there would not be any impact of Bihar results on national politics, Kharge said: “They themselves are demoralised. How can they say it would have no impact.”
The Congress leader warned that “If anything goes wrong” the ruling party would be responsible for it unless they followed a policy of “give and take.”
The last session of the 16th Lok Sabha witnessed constant disruptions and no major business could be transacted.
Sri Lanka’s president dissolved Parliament and called for elections on Jan. 5 in a bid to stave off a deepening political crisis over his dismissal of the prime minister that opponents say is unconstitutional.
An official notification signed by President Maithripala Sirisena announced the dissolution of Parliament effective midnight Friday. It said the names of candidates will be called before Nov. 26 and the new Parliament is to convene Jan. 17.
Sri Lanka has been in a crisis since Oct. 26, when Sirisena fired his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. Both say they command a majority in Parliament and had been expected to face the 225-member house Wednesday after it was suspended for about 19 days.
Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama told The Associated Press Saturday that the reason for the president to dissolve Parliament was the need to go to the people to find a resolution to the crisis.
“On the 14th there was to be a lot of commotion and unparliamentary activities sponsored by the speaker,” Amunugama said. “The speaker was not planning to act according to the constitution and standing orders of Parliament.”
Sirisena’s supporters had been irked by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s announcement that he was going to call for a vote for either party to prove their support.
“The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at U.S.-based analyst group Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis.”
Wickremesinghe has insisted his firing is unconstitutional. He has refused to vacate his official residence and demanded that Parliament be summoned immediately to prove he had support among its members.
Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.
Sirisena was critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war against a Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009. Rajapaksa, who ruled as president from 2005 to 2015, is credited as a hero by the ethnic Sinhalese majority for winning the conflict. But he lost a re-election bid in 2015 amid accusations of nepotism, corruption and wartime atrocities.
Wickremesinghe’s camp is likely to contest Sirisena’s move because of constitutional provisions stating a Parliament can’t be dissolved until 4 ½ years after its election. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.
“It’s totally unconstitutional,” said Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party and a former minister. “Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper. We will fight this dictator to the end.”
The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena’s move.
US urges caution
The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, “further deepening the political crisis.”
“As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe democratic institutions and processes need to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity,” the statement said.
Earlier, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and two other lawmakers wrote to Sirisena warning that actions circumventing the democratic process could impact U.S. assistance, including a planned five-year aid package from the Millennium Challenge Corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (VOA)