Government has given indications that a discussion on price rise may be taken up next week in Parliament, sources in the opposition parties claimed on Wednesday. They, however, said the government does not appear keen on a debate on the Agnipath military recruitment scheme and could evade the matter on the ground that it was sub judice.
The opposition parties have conveyed to the government that no discussion on the price rise issue ”will be allowed” till their MPs remain suspended, the sources said. While four Congress MPs have been suspended in the Lok Sabha for the rest of the session for disrupting proceedings, 19 MPs, including seven from the TMC, six from the DMK, three from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, two from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and one from the CPI were suspended for the rest of the week.
On Tuesday, a Rajya Sabha MP from Aam Aadmi Party was suspended as well. The opposition parties have been holding protests to press for an immediate discussion on price rise and GST issues, paralysing proceedings in parliament since the start of the Monsoon session on July 18. The government has maintained that the matter can be taken up once Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers from COVID-19 and returns to Parliament.
Opposition sources also claimed that feelers from the “other side” have indicated that there is a view within the government that suspending 19 opposition MPs at one go in Rajya Sabha was a “wrong strategic move” and should have been avoided. In fact, in the morning, Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu met leaders of the opposition parties and it was offered that if they express regret over their behaviour, a resolution will be brought to revoke the suspensions. However, none of the leaders acquiesced. Instead, they said the government should express regret for not discussing price rise. With the suspension of the MPs in Rajya Sabha concluding on Friday, a discussion on price rise is likely to be taken up after that, they said, However, the government does not appear keen on discussing the Agnipath scheme that faced violent protests across the country, the opposition sources said. Agnipath was introduced by the government on 14 June 2022 for the recruitment of soldiers below the rank of commissioned officers into the three services of the armed forces. Most of the protesters against the Agnipath scheme had attributed the anger to the fact that the Army had stopped recruitment for the past two years and the new model does not provide a job guarantee to 75 per cent of the recruits.
The sources indicate that the Opposition, which will try to push for a discussion on the issue, is expecting that the government will refuse, citing the sub-judice nature of the matter. Petitions on the scheme are pending before the Supreme Court.