M A I N   N E W S

Consensus emerging on amending law
Office of profit
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 26
A consensus appears to be fast emerging among various political parties on bringing a Bill in the reconvened Budget session of Parliament for a clear definition of an “office of profit”.

The government pointman for thrashing out this consensus, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, is busy gathering inputs from different political parties on the subject and in this regard today met JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav. The meeting lasted 30 minutes.

Mr Yadav, who is Chairman of the JD (U) Parliamentary Board, said he was of the firm opinion that the matter should be resolved soon by amending the law. He assured Mr Dasmunshi that his party would support the government if it were to reconvene the Budget session of Parliament.

Now it is a foregone conclusion that all major political parties like the BJP and the Left Front are going to support the Bill on the issue of office of profit. The sense of the Prime Minister’s Office is that very soon there will be a legal definition of what constitutes office of profit and what does not.

Yesterday, Mr Dasmunshi had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, Mr L.K. Advani and Mr Jaswant Singh, respectively and had spoken on the phone with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and CPM leaders Mr Prakash Karat and Mr Sitaram Yechury to reach a consensus on the office of profit issue.

Mr Dasmunshi has also held discussions with Rashtriya Janata Dal, NCP, while the views of parties like Samajwadi Party, Asom Gana Parishad, BJD, MDMK and Shiv Sena are also being taken.

Following the meetings, Mr Dasmunshi claimed that the parliamentary session would be called as soon as possible. “In a day or two, we will be trying to create an environment for discussions,” said Mr Dasmunshi.

The BJP which earlier made a lot of noise on the office of profit issue, has changed tack and now wants that a bill be tabled in Parliament. The saffron party’s turnaround has come because the BJP governments in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are on precarious ground.

After completing his discussions with the leadership of various political parties and probing their minds on the issue of office of profit, Mr Dasmunshi would meet the Prime Minister again. This meeting is likely to take place soon. After this meeting, the government will reconvene the Budget Session, and the likely date is May 10 which was originally scheduled. The assembly polls are going to be over on May 8.

The Left leaders are hoping for a quick resolution, while the BJP has said that it is for the government to decide on the dates for calling the Parliament session in which a law can be put in place on offices of profit.

Parliament was adjourned sine die on March 22. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee defended the sine die adjournment, saying that it was earlier decided at an all-party meeting that the budgetary exercises would be completed in the House by March 21. He said since all finance Bills were transacted, there was nothing left for the Budget session.


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