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Talks on “office of profit” issue from May 10
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 30
The government today decided to reconvene Parliament from May 10 after the Assembly elections for enacting a comprehensive law on redefining office of profit, an issue that resulted in a political storm and has threatened the survival of BJP-led government in Jharkhand.

  • Parliament to be reconvened from May 10 to 23 to redefine office of profit
  • Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to seek views of parties on kind of legislation

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The short session would go upto May 23.

Leader of Lok Sabha and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee would seek views of parties on what kind of legislation they would prefer on the complex issue.

He will be writing shortly to all party leaders seeking their suggestions on the kind of legislation they would prefer, Parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi told presspersons after the meeting.

The government has deliberately asked political parties for their views in writing as it will enable it to hold the opposition to its suggestion and make it difficult for it to backtrack on them.

UPA ministers maintained that the opposition has been making contradictory statements, saying one thing in private and another in public.

In fact, the government and the opposition has been engaged in a cat and mouse game ever since the office of profit controversy erupted. The opposition has deliberately refrained from giving its suggestions with the BJP and the Samajwadi Party even rejecting the proposal for an all-party meeting as that would have forced them to place its views on record.

The UPA government has, however, responded in the same vein and has, therefore, come up with the idea of seeking everybody’s inputs in writing.

Amidst speculation that the government was planning an ordinance, Parliament was abruptly adjourned sine die on March 22 after it was rocked over the issue that led to Congress President Sonia Gandhi's resignation from Lok Sabha and taking away much steam out of the opposition campaign against her.

Political temperatures rose as the Election Commission braced itself to go into complaints, including that involving Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and a number of MPs from several states and MLAs in Jharkhand.

The BJP-led government in Jharkhand, which enjoys only a wafer thin majority, faces a problem on the office of profit issue with the Opposition there seeking disqualification of a number of ministers and MLAs.

The government has already declared that the law on the office of profit issue would be the priority agenda of the reconvened session.

The Union Cabinet which met today cleared several legislative measures which would also be taken up in the session.

The office of profit issue has become a major poll issue in West Bengal where Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee has complained against Mr Chatterjee and nine other CPM members to the Commission.

Mrs Gandhi's resignation from Lok Sabha and also the NAC Chairpersonship is also being made a political capital by the Congress to show its detractors in poor light.

The last few days had witnessed complaints against some MLAs in Jharkhand being forwarded to the Election Commission by the state governor bringing Arjun Munda Government to the edge.

There have also been complaints against ministers and MLAs in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh as also in Uttaranchal.

Meanwhile, BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley today said the "cat is out of the bag" following the government's announcement of reconvening the session. It showed that the government certainly had plans to bring an ordinance on the issue after the sine die adjournment of Parliament on March 22, he said.


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