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Parliament stalled again, talks on

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Deal being worked on and Bharatiya Janata Party motions; govt managers hopeful on end to stalemate.

For a successive day, Parliament conducted no business, but the government raised hopes that the two Houses might function normally from tomorrow or, in the worst case, from next Monday. The current Winter Session opened yesterday.

Government managers were in negotiations till late tonight, keeping their fingers crossed that all members of Parliament would see reason and let Parliament function from tomorrow

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tabled two sets of adjournment motions seeking a discussion on unaccounted (‘black’) money.

If no censure of the government is indicated in the wording of the motion, the government might agree to discuss it as early as tomorrow. Government business will follow on Monday.

This is subject to small groups not disrupting the session, such as members of Parliament from Telangana with their statehood demand or members seeking revocation of the ban on export of onions, the two sets who stalled proceedings on Wednesday.

On Wednesdayn Wednesday, reports that the Left parties, following their meeting with finance minister and leader of the Lok Sabha, Pranab Mukherjee, had compromised with the government on a price rise discussion proved incorrect.

Members of Parliament of the Left parties asserted there was no point in having a discussion on price rise without voting, unless the government took on board three issues that the Left defines as contributing to price rise.

“Left parties feel there is no point in another discussion on price rise. Already two discussions have taken place on the issue, in the last two sessions of Parliament... But the government has not initiated any concrete steps to check inflation and price rise,” CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury told reporters.

“The discussion should only be held under the rule which entails voting, so that there is pressure built on the government to initiate concrete steps to curb inflation and check price rise.”

Yechury spelt out the Left parties’ bottom line: all forward trading of food commodities be banned and the taxes on petrol and diesel be reduced to help bring down their prices, besides strengthening the Public Distribution System to distribute essential commodities.

“The government’s plea of under-recoveries (on petro products) is not justified. The government is getting taxes of Ra 1.3 lakh crore from petrol and diesel and the subsidy is only of Ra 40,000 crores. The government is making a profit of Ra 90,000 crore and putting the burden on the common man,” he said.

Left sources revealed Mukherjee had seized on a suggestion by Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta that price rise be discussed under a non-voting rule and had sent him to elicit the views of other parties, including the BJP.

However, after internal discussion, the parties turned the proposal down.

Government managers said they have a Plan-B ready. An adjournment motion, according to the Speaker’s ruling, can only be allowed if it relates to a matter of an immediate nature.

As inflation and price rise is a result of moves over a period of time, the Speaker would be within her rights to reject the demand.

The government would then offer the Opposition the chance to discuss it as a debate. The chances are that the Left would accept this proposal, albeit reluctantly.

Government sources said the BJP’s adjournment motion on should not read as an indictment. Depending on the wording, the government might accept the motion.

Sources said after paralysing the government and Parliament, the also realises that disruption can only yield diminishing returns.

Meanwhile, the BJP parliamentary party also decided to finalise the format for all MPs of the opposition National Democratic Alliance to give their individual declaration about having no foreign bank accounts and illegal money abroad.

This is to be done within the next two or three days and the statements presented to Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari.

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