Angry Venkaiah Naidu calls off dinner planned for Rajya Sabha MPs

Invitations were kept ready and Naidu was expecting the Rajya Sabha to get back to normal work before sending out the invites. He expected a turnaround in the situation on March 19 but it was not to be.

Angry Venkaiah Naidu calls off dinner planned for Rajya Sabha MPs

NEW DELHI: With the Rajya Sabha stalled for the last 12 days, an upset Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has called off the dinner he planned to host on Wednesday for MPs. Sources said all preparations for the dinner were put in place last week. Naidu had spoken to the President, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition and other floor leaders inviting them for the dinner. 

Invitations were kept ready and Naidu was expecting the Rajya Sabha to get back to normal work before sending out the invites. He expected a turnaround in the situation on March 19 but it was not to be.

At the daily meeting with floor leaders in his chamber on Tuesday, Naidu, while conveying his anguish over the ongoing stalemate in the House, informed the leaders of his decision to call off Wednesday`s dinner. 

The sources said Naidu was of the view that it would not be appropriate to go ahead with the dinner with the House not functioning for over two weeks.

Specialist cooks, who were to come from Andhra Pradesh, were asked to cancel their train bookings. The Chairman also refused to inaugurate a badminton tournament for MPs at the Constitution Club last week. 

At the meeting on Tuesday morning of Naidu with floor leaders, the sources said hopes were raised of the stalemate in the House being resolved but it turned out to be just a flicker.

After several days of thin attendance of floor leaders at the daily meetings, it was different on Tuesday with about 12 leaders including Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma in attendance. They were joining after a few days. 

With Azad asserting that the opposition parties were keen about proper functioning of the House to discuss important issues of banking irregularities, special status for Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery issue, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel reciprocated the feelings and even sought the opposition`s help in passing the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill.

Naidu agreed to Azad`s suggestions to let him speak in brief on the issues agitating various sections of the House which would give the government an opportunity to respond, probably paving the way for a return to normalcy. 

All the floor leaders agreed to Naidu`s suggestion to let External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj make a statement on the status of the Indians missing in Iraq.

When Naidu, at the start of the meeting, told the leaders about his decision to cancel the dinner, they said he may have to reconsider his decision as it looked that the House may get back to work. 

But in the House, even as Azad was speaking, members of the TDP, YSRCP, DMK and AIADMK and a member of Congress rushed near the Chairman`s podium. With the appeals of Naidu for order going unheeded, the House was adjourned for the day. 

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