M A I N   N E W S

UPA, Left prepare counter-strategy
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
With a belligerent opposition all set to take on the government in the winter session of Parliament which opened here today, united UPA and Left leaders today made it clear that they will not stand in the way of a discussion on the Volcker report but will resist any debate on the Mitrokhin Papers, which has alleged that the erstwhile Soviet Union had bankrolled several Congress and Left party leaders.

UPA and Left leaders, who had a prolonged strategy session in Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s office today, indicated that if the BJP insists on debating the Mitrokhin Papers, they will counter it with a demand for a discussion on the issues raised in the controversial book written by former naval chief Vishnu Bhagwat, who was sacked during the NDA regime.

Or they could even seek a debate on Seymour Hersch’s book which spoke of former Prime Minister Morarji Desai having CIA links. And if the situation so demands, they will not hesitate to dig out senior BJP leader Balraj Madhok’s article in which he mentioned that two senior BJP leaders were in constant touch with KGB operatives.

“Mitrokhin Papers is, after all, a book, written by a former KGB operative whose credibility itself is suspect. In that case, we can also demand a debate on any book,” remarked a senior UPA minister, stating that this could well open a Pandora’s Box.

While this debate remains off-limits, the UPA and the Left parties today agreed to accede to the BJP demand for a discussion on the Volcker report, even if it moves an adjournment motion or any other rule requiring a vote. But even here, the Left will counter the opposition by demanding that the scope of the Pathak enquiry authority be expanded to include all Indian companies mentioned in the Volcker report, which could turn the spotlight on the NDA regime since it was in power when the oil-for-food programme was in operation.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi reiterated the government’s willingness to discuss the Volcker report while Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee indicated the same separately. In an informal chat with presspersons, Mr Chatterjee said as far as he is concerned there is no objection to the opposition demand for discussion on the Volcker report or any other important issue though an adjournment motion or any other rules. He, however, brushed aside any demand for a debate on Mitrokhin Papers, stating “it is, after all, a book.” but added that he is yet to take a decision on this issue as anybody could then demand a debate on the basis of allegations made in a book. 


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