Over eight opposition leaders have sent an unusual rejoinder to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's request to cooperation during parliament's monsoon session with a letter of their own. In this one, the opposition leaders wonder whether she had written to the government too, pointing that it was the ruling BJP-led coalition which disrupted parliament for 13 days during the budget session to block a no-trust vote from being taken up.
In her letter, Ms Mahajan recalls how parliament's monsoon session was wasted due to disruptions and reminded the lawmakers about "parliamentary dignity and decorum".
Parliament's budget session was indeed the least productive budget session in 18 years. The Lok Sabha worked for only 21 per cent of its scheduled time. The Rajya Sabha was just a shade better, at 27 per cent.
But the Speaker and the opposition did not appear to agree who was to be blamed for the wasted opportunity.
The opposition leaders sought to pin much of the blame on the government, to begin with.
The leaders - including Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge, CPM's Md Salim and Dharmendra Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav of Lalu Yadav's RJD - accused the government of bulldozing the house and suspending rules meant to prevent "surreptitious legislation".
The letter, couched in strong language, also questions how the house had been conducted in the last session, a reference to the no-trust motion moved by opposition parties in the last session that wasn't taken up because the house was not in order.
The opposition leaders say the Speaker did not have any discretion under the constitution and rules once 50 members stand in favour of the no confidence motion.
"Yet, we were all witness to the disastrous manner in which the notices given by various parties were dealt with, including one given by a party which was till recently a trusted ally of the ruling party," the letter says.
"For all your concerns for the image of our Parliament globally, this ignominious chapter in the history of Indian Parliament has no precedent world over," the lawmakers said, expressing concern at what they called was a "new trend" that could prove lethal to constitutional democracy.
After an all-party meeting that she had convened earlier on Tuesday - one of the three such meetings held - Ms Mahajan again urged MPs not to disrupt proceedings since it stalls important legislation and gives the country a bad name.
She also referred to the letter written to her by opposition members, saying they have expressed their anguish. "I got their letter today in which they have expressed their anguish... Children often blame others... I take it as a mother... We can always resolve issues and there is no big deal about it," Ms Mahajan said, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
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