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When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) held its Parliamentary Party executive meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s message to his party men was clear.
They have to set the agenda and not let the opposition take the lead on raising issues in the Winter Session of Parliament, starting Monday.
Leading a discussion with the whips of the party and about 10 key ministers, including parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi, PM Modi rejected a suggestion by one of the attendees, member of Parliament and former minister Jual Oram to focus on the Ayodhya verdict and the building of the Ram temple.
According to a senior leader, who attended the meeting and spoke to HT, Oram’s suggestion came when the Prime Minister was brainstorming on the focus of this session of Parliament. Oram is reported to have said that there should be a parliamentary committee on the matter.
Responding to that, PM Modi said, “Parliament has nothing to do with that issue. It is a court matter and is being handled in an administrative way which will take its own time.’’
This ended any further discussion on the Ram Temple and the Supreme Court’s recent verdict giving away the disputed land for its building.
In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister raised one of his favourite issues—the importance of attendance.
“I have been saying this for the last five years,’’ he said to all those attending. “This is really key and the opposition is going to try and ensure that there isn’t as smooth a functioning as there was during the last session. We can only counter it by having full attendance,” he said.
One of the issues raised by parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi was how the opposition members had already started giving notices on the issues of economic slowdown and job losses.
This was part of the minister’s presentation of how the last session turned out and what to expect in the current session. On this, the Prime Minister suggested that the BJP’s MPs focus on tribal issues, especially in light of the upcoming Jharkhand elections.
“The message from the PM was clear,’’ said another member who attended. “We should be setting the agenda and not following the opposition’s.”
Interestingly, the Maharashtra crisis also popped up as a topic of discussion and the Prime Minister used it to highlight a positive fallout.
He is said to have pointed out how BJP leaders had maintained a dignified silence and not said anything amiss to the media, made any statements that didn’t fit the party line.