With the BJP staging a walk-out from Lok Sabha over the demand for immediate discussion of Prime Minister’s statement on the WikiLeaks “expose” of cash-for-vote, the crucial finance bill was passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday in the absence of the main opposition.
Though the BJP appeared satisfied with Speaker Meira Kumar’s statement that the privilege motion notice against the PM was under her consideration, all hell broke loose over the timing of the short-notice discussion called for by the BJP.
Leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj, who wanted the discussion to be taken up before any other business on Tuesday, led the walk-out.
Leader of the house and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee moved the bill saying, “We agree to the short-duration discussion under rule 193, but as the finance bill has to be approved by the House to be sent to the President and after that to Rajya Sabha please allow the bill to be passed first,” Mukherjee pleaded to the BJP members, who had risen to their feet.
Claiming the party was making it a prestige issue, Mukherjee said, “Do not think the heavens are going to fall if the discussion is taken up after the finance bill.”
As parliamentary affairs minister PK Bansal started reading out from the rulebook, BJP member Yashwant Sinha said, “It is better not to refer to rules under the circumstances. We are suggesting a political way out where there would be no need to pass the finance bill in absence of the opposition. It is better if we do not get involved in the rule book.”
Swaraj offered to sit through the evening till midnight to pass the bill “if the government could take up the discussion for a couple of hours and settle the matter”. “We gave the notice for discussion on Monday,” Swaraj said Bansal said the debate under rule 193 could be taken up after 24 hours of notice. With the government not willing to relent, the BJP walked out when the House assembled at 12:30 pm.
PM to reply?
The Congress is planning to field Bansal, Shashi Tharoor and Sanjay Nirupam in the short-duration discussion to be taken up on Wednesday. Sources said the PM is likely to reply to the discussion too.