All-Party Meet: Centre Calls Meet on Sri Lanka, Discusses Unparliamentary Words

The Agnipath scheme, price rise and PM Modi's absence from the meeting were also discussed.

4 min read
Edited By :Tejas Harad

Amid the ongoing turmoil in Sri Lanka, India's Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi announced on Sunday, 17 July, that the Union government would hold an all-party meeting on the neighbouring country's situation on Tuesday, 19 July.

Speaking to the press after addressing an all-party meeting ahead of the Parliament's Monsoon Session on 18 July, Joshi added that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will chair the meeting on crisis-hit Sri Lanka.

The foreign secretary is likely to make a presentation before the members on the situation in Sri Lanka and the assistance that India has provided in the past to the island nation, according to news agency ANI.

The meeting will address the concerns of several political parties, especially Tamil Nadu, which is worried about the influx of Sri Lankan refugees in the state.


Earlier on 15 July, India's Ministry of External Affairs said that it "supports an early political solution in Sri Lanka through democratic means and a constitutional framework."

"Moving forward, India’s support and solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka will continue," the ministry's spokesperson added.

Sri Lanka, a country of over 22 million, is going through an unprecedented economic crisis – the worst in seven decades. Millions in the country are struggling to buy food, medicines, fuel, and other essentials.

While former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country on 12 July and is now in Singapore, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was officially sworn in as acting president on 15 July. Amid the raging anti-government demonstrations, Wickremesinghe has declared an indefinite nationwide emergency.

'No Word Barred in Parliament': Joshi

Joshi, while acknowledging the unparliamentary words row, said that '"no word had been barred from use in the Parliament."

He told those present in the meeting that the Lok Sabha has been bringing out a list of unparliamentary words since 1954. He further said that the Opposition was "trying to make issues out of non-issues as they don't have anything against the government."

Soon after, senior Congress leader Sashi Tharoor told news agency PTI that he would treat the list of words as indicative rather than definitive and "speak normally" in the House. He would see, he added, whether it is applied in a "draconian manner to stifle meaningful criticism."

Use of terms like 'jumlajeevi', 'baal buddhi', 'Covid spreader' and 'Snoopgate' and even commonly used words like 'ashamed', 'abused, 'betrayed', 'corrupt', 'drama', 'hypocrisy' and 'incompetent' will henceforth be considered unparliamentary in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, according to the new booklet by the Lok Sabha Secretariat. After the outrage over the issue, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla had stepped in and made it clear that no word has been banned from use in Parliament but will be expunged on a contextual basis.

'Govt Open for Discussion On All Issues': Joshi

Amid demands for a discussion on the widely contested Agnipath Scheme, price rise and the "misuse of investigative agencies by the Centre," Joshi remarked that the government was open for discussion "on all issues as long as it adhered to parliamentary rules and procedures."

While leaders across the political spectrum had decried the Agnipath scheme and had alleged that it was brought in without consultation, Congress leaders including Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Salman Khurshid, and Jairam Ramesh had staged protests against Agnipath in June.

The new recruitment scheme aimed towards the youth aged between 17.5 and 21 in the armed forces for a contractual four-year term was unveiled on 14 June, sparking widespread violent protests across the nation. Several instances of stone-pelting and arson of trains and other public and private property were observed.

Opposition Criticises PM Modi's Absence

The government was represented by senior Union Minister Rajnath Singh, deputy leader of the Lok Sabha, his cabinet colleague and BJP's leader in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal, and Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi.

Leaders from almost all parties, including Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and Jairam Ramesh, DMK's TR Baalu and Tiruchi Siva, Trinamool Congress' Sudeep Bandyopadhyay and NCP's Sharad Pawar were present at the meeting.

Biju Janata Dal's Pinaki Misra, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party's Vijaysai Reddy and Midhun Reddy, Telangana Rashtra Samithi's Keshav Rao and Nama Nageshwar Rao, Rashtriya Janata Dal's AD Singh and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut were also present in the meeting.

Although leaders across the political spectrum attended the meeting, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not present. This led the Opposition to raise questions on his absence, calling it ‘unparliamentary.’

Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh criticised his absence, to which Union Minister Pralhad Joshi retaliated by asking Congress how many times Manmohan Singh had attended the all-party meeting.


As reported by ANI, Pralhad Joshi said, "Congress' Jairam Ramesh raised the issue that PM didn't attend the meeting today. I want to tell him that before 2014, the PM never used to attend the all-part meet. How many times did Manmohan Singh ji attend the all-party meeting?"

He added that 45 political parties were invited, of which 36 attended. He also said that 36 leaders put forth their views.

Joshi said that 32 bills have been indicated from various departments and will be presented in this session of Parliament.

"14 bills are ready. We will not pass the bills without discussion," Joshi said.

Congress' Mallikarjun Kharge said that 13 issues were taken up in the meeting.

"They didn't even tell us about those 14 bills. We'll barely have 14 working days in session. We've to discuss 20 topics and pass 32 bills," he said.

It has been a practice for the government to call an all-party meeting before the start of the session to deliberate on issues and put forth the legislative agenda. The Monsoon session of the Parliament will begin on 18 July and continue till 12 August.

(With inputs from PTI and ANI.)

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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