Government says ‘no’ to resignations, PM speaks for land bill

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) The government on Monday rejected Congress demands for the resignation of a 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 CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury among others.

Modi will also meet NDA partners on Monday evening.

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.

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