The government's efforts to initiate back-channel talks to resolve the ongoing impasse in parliament may hit a wall, messages from leaders of the Congress and Trinamool Congress have suggested. The opposition, they have made clear, stands together and has no intention of budging from its demand of the revocation of suspension of 12 MPs who were penalized for "unruly behaviour".
Sources said on Friday, Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu had asked the opposition and the government to meet and reach an understanding on the issue that has stymied the Winter Session since it started on November 29. On Sunday, an invitation for talks was sent to five parties whose MLAs were suspended, by Parliamentary Affairs minister Prahlad Joshi.
The opposition will meet on Monday to decide on their stance.
But the trajectory became clear as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjuna Kharge wrote to Mr Joshi, calling his invitation to just four Opposition parties "unfair and unfortunate".
"All Opposition parties are united in the protest against the suspension of the 12 MPs. We have been requesting from the evening of November 29 itself that either the Chairman of the Raiya Sabha or the Leader of the House Shri Piyush Goyal call leaders of all Opposition parties for a discussion to break the stalemate. This reasonable request of ours has not been agreed to, further inviting only leaders of four Opposition parties instead of inviting leaders of all Opposition parties is unfair and unfortunate," the senior Congress leader wrote.
Earlier on Sunday, Derek O'Brien, who is the Trinamool's leader in the Rajya Sabha, tweeted:
Monday morning STUNT from a Govt. who do not want #Parliament to function.— Derek O'Brien | (@derekobrienmp) December 19, 2021
Govt calls leaders of the 4 Oppn parties whose 12 RS MPs have been arbitrarily suspended.
Govt leaves other 10 Oppn parties out.
ALL OPPN clear : first revoke arbitrary suspension
The Rajya Sabha chairman had earlier underscored the need for smooth functioning of the House and asked the Leader of the House and the Leader of Opposition to discuss the matter.
But neither the government nor the opposition has been ready to relent.
The government had accepted the opposition's point that the MPs' unruly behavior took place in the last session, meaning they cannot be suspended in this session under the Rajya Sabha rules.
"They (however) want the suspended members to apologize one by one in the House but they are not going to do anything of that sort," Mr Kharge has said.
The impasse has hit the functioning of both houses. In the third week of the Winter Session, the productivity of Rajya Sabha hit a low of 37.60 per cent - pulling down the functionality of the House for the first three weeks to 46.70 per cent.
Mr O'Brien's tweet has also indicated that the Trinamool is ready to collaborate with the Congress on this issue, despite their growing differences.
Last week, the party's absence was noted in the opposition strategy session called by Sonia Gandhi to take the matter forward. Besides the Congress, five opposition parties were at the meeting - Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party, the DMK, the Shiv Sena, CPM and the National Conference.
No reason was cited by either side for Trinamool's absence.
Among those suspended are six MPs from the Congress, two each from Trinamool Congress and Shiv Sena, and two from the Left parties - one each from CPI and CPM.