Sonia Gandhi meets Lok Sabha Speaker but Cong insists on PM’s presence

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday met Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan but there were no signs of any immediate end to the 16-day-long deadlock in Parliament over the demonetisation issue.

Soon after Gandhi had a brief meeting with Mahajan, the Congress made it clear that there has been no toning down of its demand for having a discussion on demonetisation under the rule entailing voting in Lok Sabha and ensuring the presence of the Prime Minister during the debate in Rajya Sabha.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi claimed that the ruling side was “running scared” of voting in Lok Sabha despite a comfortable majority as it apprehends that some of its allies may vote against it.

Singhvi dismissed as “joke of the century”, BJP’s demand for an apology from opposition for disrupting Parliament insisting that the Prime Minister owed an apology to over 100 crore people affected due to his decision.

Hitting back at the BJP and the government, Singhvi told reporters that the “failure” of the ruling dispensation to have a debate in Parliament showed its “panic and scare”.

He alleged that the BJP was not allowing Rahul Gandhi to speak in Parliament as it “feared him”.

“The BJP for all its bravado is running scared because it thinks ths bravado is another ‘jumla’,” he said, adding that it “feared” that some of its alliance partners would not be supportive of its action.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” he said virtually daring the ruling NDA to have a debate in Lok Sabha with voting.

To the ruling party’s demand that the opposition should apologise instead for disrupting Parliament for over a fortnight, Singhvi said, “It is almost comic that the Prime Minister will not apologise for putting over 100 crore people in the country to inconvenience for the past one month. But opposition must apologise merely for asking questions.”

“I think it is a joke of the century,” he said, on demands for an apology from the opposition.

Singhvi said the Prime Minister should show an active and keen interest as far as his participation in Parliament is concerned.

“Government cannot develop a disinterest in debating the issue. It really speaks of panic and scare,” he said. On Congress demands to have a debate on the issue in both

Houses, the Congress spokesperson said, “As of now, nothing has changed on voting. There is no change in the party’s stand.”

BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said, “After a stern message of President Pranab Mukherjee to opposition for creating ruckus in Parliament, Congress and Trinamool Congress should apologise to the nation.”

He also said that due to this kind of conduct of Congress and TMC, the President himself had to intervene. “They owe an apology to President too,” he said.

As Parliament remained gridlocked, Rahul Gandhi, earlier on the day, thundered there will be an “earthquake” if allowed to speak on the “biggest scam”, drawing ridicule from BJP which said the Congress leader is best known for political “quackery”, not quakes.