Government today slammed Congress leader Kamal Nath for his remarks that Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's decision on the issue of grant of Leader of Opposition status could be "flavoured" by BJP, saying it is "unfortunate" as the Speaker is above party lines.
The remarks were made by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu even as the government reached out to the opposition ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament, saying it was ready to discuss any issue raised by the opposition. "Government has no reservation on any issue. We are willing to discuss each and every issue of national importance," Naidu told reporters after the meeting which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The breakfast meeting convened by Naidu was also attended by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Home Minister Rajnath Singh and 45 leaders of various parties including Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former Prime Minister H D Devegowda.
Responding to questions over Nath's remarks on the LOP issue, Naidu said, "It is unfortunate that such a comment has been made by a senior leader like Kamal Nath. He must have made such a comment based on his own experience. The matter will be dealt by the Speaker according to the rulebook and the precedent. Once elected, the Speaker is above the party." Nath had yesterday said that the Lok Sabha Speaker's decision on the issue of Leader of Opposition in Lower House could be "flavoured" by BJP and Narendra Modi. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister also made it clear that the issue of LOP was not raised at today's meeting which saw a number of party leaders raising the issue of price rise including hike in petroleum products and the recent hike in rail fares. Kharge said price rise and inflation issues were raised at the meeting.
Speaking separately, the Lok Sabha Speaker said she expects that Parliament will run smoothly and important issues are discussed and sought the cooperation of all members and assured them to give maximum possible time to raise issues.
She, however, did not comment on Nath's comments saying she will not react to media reports. "I will discuss if somebody comes to me, some leader from Congress or any other party, and raises any issue."