On the eve of the reconvening (on Thursday) of Parliament’s budget session after a month’s recess, the short-term plans of the two sides are different. The Opposition plans to corner the government on the issues of price rise, Maoist attacks and the latest controversy involving Shashi Tharoor. While government managers are focused on early passage of the Finance Bill, incorporating the Budget 2010-11 proposals.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Business Standard, “Passing of the Finance Bill is the top priority of the government, as it is a constitutional obligation.” The Bill is slated for passage during the last week of this month. Congress party managers indicate that till this happens, they’re unlikely to take up any controversial legislative business that may irk their supporting parties.
Accordongly, the Congress is mum about the future of two major legislative businesses, the bills on women’s reservation in legislatures and on civil nuclear liability. Top party managers suggest the government is yet to decide when these two would be taken up. While the women’s bill has been passed in the Rajya Sabha and awaits the Lok Sabha’s nod, the other bill is yet to be introduced in Parliament.
The development today is that after the erstwhile ‘Third Front’ partners decided to move a ‘cut motion’ — these, if accepted for tabling by the Speaker, have the same effect as a money bill, meaning a government has to quit if these pass in the House — on the Finance Bill against the oil price hike, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA, too, decided to bring separate cut motions, against price rise.
This was decided at a meeting of NDA MPs today. “NDA will also issue three-line whips to its MPs to get the cut motions passed in the Lok Sabha. All cut motions will be related to price rise, which affects the common people and national interest,” said the party’s Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha, S S Ahluwalia, after the meeting.
When asked if the Third Front parties would coordinate with the NDA on the cut motion, Gurudas Dasgupta, leader of the Communist Party of India in the Lok Sabha, told Business Standard, “It is the prerogative of the Speaker to decide if she will club the various motions together or not. But, coordinating with the other opposition parties is a common practice in parliamentary politics.”
The NDA will also demand suspension of Question Hour on Thursday in both Houses and a debate on the Dantewada naxal attack that claimed the lives of 76 security personnel. “NDA will give a notice in both Houses tomorrow to demand suspension of Question Hour and ask the government to issue a statement on the Maoist violence, which is assuming dangerous proportions,” Ahluwalia said.
The opposition has also decided to demand action against Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor for his alleged “misuse of office” in connection with the latest controversy on the Indian Premier League cricket teams. “We will demand that the corruption charges against Tharoor for misusing his office for a lady friend be investigated. He has also violated the oath of office,” Ahluwalia said.
The Third Front parties have got together with some outside supporters of the UPA to try and corner the government on price rise. The Front partners have decided to move a cut motion on the finance bill against the petro-price hike and another proposal against the fertilizer price hike. About 13 parties, with 88 MPs in the Lok Sabha, are expected to support this motion.