M A I N   N E W S

Parliament logjam ends
Government manages to persuade Opposition to give up their demand to discuss price rise in both Houses
Faraz Ahmad and Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The weeklong impasse in Parliament finally ended today, with the Opposition, embarrassed of stalling proceedings for too long, climbing down several steps and the government, too, indulging the Opposition in phrasing the proposed resolution.

Union Finance Minister and the Leader of the Lower House, Pranab Mukherjee, softened the leaders of all parties with steaming hot coffee, dosas, vadas and omelets from Parliament House canteen and persuaded them to give up their insistence on a division to discuss price rise in both Houses of Parliament.

At the end of the day, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and CPM leader Basudeb Acharia pleased themselves with minor consolations that “now the entire House will join us in asking the government to take action to control to adverse impact (of price rise) on the common man”.

But for that, the Opposition gave up first its demand for an adjournment motion and then on Rule 184 entailing a vote in the House. Yet Sushma claimed, “We won the day. The Opposition remained united till the very end. We also remained determined not to accept discussion under Rule 193. I told Pranab that in the last six years we have discussed price rise under this rule nine times. Rather than agreeing to 193, we would have given up our demand altogether and allowed the House to run anyway,” said the Leader of Opposition.

The first move at reconciliation was made four days ago on Friday (July 30) by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sushma admitted. He had invited the Leader of Opposition to discuss the successor of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, who is due for retirement shortly. There, he suggested that this logjam has lasted too long and should end now and Sushma said she agreed with him. “He also mentioned that Pranab Mukherjee will take the initiative to break the deadlock,” Sushma said, adding that today’s breakfast meeting was a natural culmination of the process set in motion by the Prime Minister.

Thus soon as the two Houses assembled for the day, Speaker Meira Kumar in the Lok Sabha and chairman Hamid Ansari in the Rajya Sabha made the pleasant announcement of rapprochement that the treasury and Opposition had agreed to resume normal functioning of House proceedings and agreed to pass a resolution to express concern over the situation caused by inflation after discussing the adverse impact of inflationary pressure on the common man.

With the logjam settled, the question hour was held for the first time since House proceedings began last week.

Notably, RJD’s Lalu Yadav was absent at the meeting and the only opposition leaders who did not speak on the resolution were BSP’s Satish Mishra and AIADMK’s Thambidurai.

Opposition leaders raised three primary objections to the text prepared by Pranab and Home Minister P Chidambaram. They finally agreed to drop the phrase price rise for inflationary pressures in the resolution and made the government agree to the use of common man rather than a general term ‘people’.

“After a lot of resistance, the Finance Minister agreed to incorporate the term common people in the English draft, though in Hindi the term would automatically imply ‘aam aadmi’,” said a political party leader who attended the meeting, which was also attended by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and his junior Prithviraj Chavan and V Narayan Swamy.

SP’s Mulayam Singh wanted the English text to mention “common man”, though he was happy that the connotation would imply “aam aadmi” in Hindi. It was Sharad Pawar who sought time till tomorrow to prepare for the debate.

Several MPs, including BJD’s Arjan Charan Sethi, could not come as they were in their constituencies. The BJD, however, authorised another MP to represent itself at the meet. The discussion will be held in the Lok Sabha tomorrow and in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.





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