Parliament braces for stormy monsoon session (Evening Lead)

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) With the Congress insisting on the resignation of “scam-tainted” ministers and the government refusing to buckle on Monday, the monsoon session of parliament that starts on Tuesday is most likely to be stormy.

To add to the government’s woes, opposition parties also appear to be in no mood to compromise vis-a-vis the controversial land bill on which Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called for a national consensus.

The indications of the looming showdown in parliament emerged on Monday after an all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu when the government ruled out the resignation of anyone.

“The question of resignation does not arise. No one has done anything illegal or immoral,” Naidu said here. “There is no question of accepting any ultimatum from anybody.

At the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad pressed for the resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as well as Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan and Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh.

Azad, who heads the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said he hoped Modi would announce the resignations of “scam-accused ministers” before Tuesday. “Passing the bills would (then) become very easy,” Azad said.

The Congress has been seeking 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.

Naidu rejected the Congress demand.

“Nobody can dictate terms to parliament. Parliament is sovereign,” he said. “We are ready to discuss issues that the opposition wants to raise.”

The BJP also vowed to raise the issue of an international firm allegedly bribing a minister and government officials in Goa and sought a CBI probe.

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.

The opposition has slammed the bill as an attempt to acquire land for industrial houses. The government has denied the charge.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy quoted Modi as saying that his government was, however, ready to accept all “good suggestions” from opposition parties on various issues.

Modi said it was the collective responsibility of the parties to ensure a smooth functioning of parliament.

But the opposition remained adamant.

“The Samajwadi Party … will continue to oppose it,” its leader Ram Gopal Yadav said of the land bill.

The all-party meeting was attended by, among others, Azad, Ram Gopal Yadav, Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav, BSP’s Satish Mishra and CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury among others.

Anticipating fireworks in parliament over a string of issues, BJP leaders held meetings on Sunday evening to discuss the strategy for parliament. Both Modi and BJP president Amit Shah met both party leaders and ministers on Sunday.

The prime minister will also meet leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies on Monday evening.

Also on Monday, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Chouhan had done no wrong vis-a-vis the Vyapam scandal and that the government was “fully prepared” for the outcome of the CBI probe ordered into the scam.

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