A strident opposition led by the Congress and the Left parties on Friday reportedly stalled proceedings in Rajya Sabha during Question Hour, demanding immediate discussion on the killings of innocent women and children in Gaza. The BJP-led NDA government was placed in a tight spot over its reluctance to hold a discussion on the issue even after the motion was admitted by the presiding officer. The government finally agreed to discuss it today. In the end though government rejected opposition's resolution on Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza.
Opposition parties today condemned the violence in Gaza and pressed for adoption of a resolution by the Rajya Sabha against it besides demanding suspension of all military purchases from Israel as the House took up a discussion over the matter ending a week-long deadlock. The House, which was paralysed over the issue last week, also saw demands from members for India raising its concern over the Israel attack on Gaza strip at the United Nations.
Initiating a discussion on the 'Unprecedented spurt in violence in Gaza and West Bank area of Palestine causing death of scores of civilians', Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad slammed the government over the delay in discussing the issue questioning whether it has made any change in the country's foreign policy towards Palestine.
Accusing the government of acting as a "spectator" to the on-going "massacre" in Palestine, Azad said "I request the Indian government, the Opposition, the House and 124 crore people of the country to rise to the occasion on humanitarian grounds. A resolution should be passed... the use of force must stop...prevent further loss of life and property in Palestine. "A united appeal must be made. Government must realise India's stature and walk the talk. Entire House should condemn the attack and pass a resolution."
Striking an allegory of the Mahabharata, Azad rued that powerful countries of the world are just witnessing the happenings in Gaza like 'Dhritrashtra', the blind king, while a war is going on for last 15 days in which innocent women and children are being killed.
Noting that India's policy has always been to support the Palestine cause, he said at a time when the country is emerging as a democratic and economic power in the world, "India is sitting as mere spectator and it took us seven days to think whether we should even discuss it or not." Condemning the "genocide" in Palestine by Israeli forces, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) demanded "immediate suspension of all military purchases from Israel".
Wondering how can people say that those associated with Hamas are terrorist, he said they have been democratically elected by Palestinians, adding "I may have disagreements with the BJP but they are democratically elected". The member said India cannot be a silent spectator and a resolution should be brought in the House to condemn it. UN Security Council has condemned it and US Secretary General has termed it atrocious, he said. "Palestinians are denied their legitimate right to homeland...Until that is returned..India should suspend all military purchases...cripple them," he said saying even Prime Minister Narendra Modi was signatory to BRICS resolution.
Ahmed Hassan (Trinamool Congress) said the government should raise the issue at the United Nations as the two-nation theory in case of Israel and Palestine is not being recognised. Anil Madhav Dave (BJP) said there is a need to go to the root of the problem and a solution will come only when the problem is diagnosed properly. He said similar situations prevail in other parts of the world, adding India should not tilt itself to any one side and play a "neutral" role.
Opposition members reacted strongly to Dave's remarks and asked him to confine himself to the subject of discussion when the BJP leader talked about armed youths from Britain, Australia and India leaving their countries and suggested that youths will have to be told that they cannot get the heaven (Jannat) with the help of guns.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India hasn't changed its stand on Gaza. Opposition staged a walkout from Rajya Sabha after the resolution was rejected.