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Friday 25 November 2011

Proceedings stalled despite overnight consensus

Proceedings stalled despite overnight consensus

No discussion in Parliament for third successive day
Competitive politics within the larger Opposition block and the ruling Congress prevented Parliament from discussing anything for the third successive day on Thursday.
After an agreement among the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left on when and under which rule to go about discussing price rise and black money, leaders of some other parties also wanted to be in the picture. Perhaps with an eye on the coming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, they made their presence felt. And finally, not to be left out, Congress MPs pitched in with the Telangana demand. The result: no business in Parliament.
Sorry state of affairs
Both the BJP and the Left separately blamed the ruling party managers for the sorry state of affairs. They said the truth was the Congress was not interested in discussing either price rise or black money, as these issues were embarrassing for it.
On Wednesday night, there was a consensus that an adjournment motion on black money would be taken up — Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj confirmed this, saying the BJP, Left and the government had agreed. However when the Lok Sabha met at noon, leaders of other parties made a considerable din in the House, insisting that price rise be taken up first.
This led to a meeting in the Speaker's chamber, where the BJP adopted a flexible approach. It said it had no problem taking up inflation at 2 p.m. That was not to be, as it was then the turn of Congress members to stall proceedings on Telangana, leading to the Speaker calling it a day.
“Not one Cabinet Minister was present in the House to try and pacify their MPs,” complained Ms. Swaraj, implying the government did not want a debate on inflation.
With the consensus that was painstakingly arrived on Wednesday night having evaporated overnight, the left and the right of the political spectrum not only blamed the government but also gave contrary accounts of events that led to the continued disruption.
CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury bluntly and forcefully rejected the idea of any “cooperation” between the Left and the BJP, except for the barest minimum “floor coordination.”
“It is not the BJP-Left who joined hands; it is the Congress and BJP who were together,” he said.
However, soon afterwards, Ms. Swaraj gave a detailed account of the exchange of faxes between her and CPI(M) leader Basudev Acharia on Wednesday night and telephone calls to “coordinate” the words of the adjournment motions on black money given separately by the two parties.
She categorically said this was also discussed with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who indicated that the government would not object to an adjournment motion on the subject.
But Mr. Yechury said, “We did not give up our demand for a discussion on price rise. But yes, we did not favour daily disruption of Parliament… the Left had given its own adjournment motion on black money and had agreed to a discussion on price rise to be taken up later.”
The Left insisted on its counter-charge, saying the cooperation between the Treasury benches and the BJP was “obvious.”
Common resolution
In the last session, the two approved a common resolution on price rise for which both had voted.
In response to a question, Mr. Yechury said the BJP's credentials on black money were not too bright, as “it was the National Democratic Alliance government that had opened up the Mauritius route” for those looking for tax havens. It did not have much of a record on unearthing it either.
Both the Opposition groups were of the view that repetitive discussions in Parliament on price rise did help as this put pressure on the government to act in the interests of the people, as was witnessed in the reduction of petrol price by about Rs. 2 a litre just ahead of the winter session.

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