M A I N   N E W S

Govt mulls early LS adjournment over Oppn boycott
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
The Congress-led UPA government is actively considering adjourning the Lok Sabha sine die ahead of the scheduled date of May 13 if the Opposition continues with its boycott of Parliament demanding the resignation or sacking of Union Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Authoritative sources said advancing the closure of the Budget session of Parliament was a political decision between the Manmohan Singh government and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee but the CPM, which was supporting the UPA coalition arrangement from outside, was not in favour of Parliament’s shutters being downed early after the passage of the Finance Bill.

Several MPs of the BJP and others in the NDA fold believe it does not stand to reason to have a half-hearted boycott of Parliament as evidenced today with the Opposition taking part in the discussions on the Finance Bill to lambast the government. They insist that if the NDA has to make any meaningful impact in forcing the Manmohan Singh government to respond in seeing the back of the Union Railway Minister following the framing of charges against Mr Yadav, then it must remain firm about the boycott. “We are not making any sacrifice by foregoing the daily allowance for a day,” remarked a few BJP MPs who did not want to be identified.

The UPA government has maintained that there is no question of sacking Mr Yadav or seeking his resignation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is firm that there cannot be double standards in this regard and has suggested evolving a consensus across the political spectrum as to who should be a minister or otherwise.

The sources drew pointed attention to the situation during the NDA regime at the Centre when chargesheets had been filed against three ministers who refused to step down on the grounds that the Opposition’s demand for their resignation was politically motivated. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had reportedly written to the NDA government in this regard, drawing attention to the suggestions of the Election Commission as well. The NDA government in categorising the Opposition demands as political decided nothing should be done to precipitate matters and rock its own boat.

At the same time, interest in the proceedings of Parliament, particularly the Lok Sabha, is crumbling as evidenced in the Lower House last week. The Lok Sabha virtually collapsed on two occasions due to lack of quorum and Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had a tough time rounding up MPs to barely keep the House going.

The sorry state of affairs prompted UPA chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to implore the MPs to remain more vigilant and not to take the proceedings in the highest legislative body of the country lightly. The admonition had its impact considering the turnout of the MPs of the ruling coalition this Monday week. However, the question doing the rounds is whether the proceedings in Parliament can be sustained over the next nine working days before adjourning sine die. The final decision in this regard rests with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

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