The Bharatiya Janata Party and the CPI(M) found themselves on the same side in Parliament on Monday.
The two sides came together against the visit of a Central team to the Marxist-ruled West Bengal to check on the law and order situation, following the Trinamool Congress’ complaint of attack on its workers.
Earlier, the entire Opposition united on sugarcane pricing to force the government to amend the Fair and Remunerative Price Scheme. Next, they came together to prevent the government from withdrawing the Lotteries Bill from the Rajya Sabha, as it would legalise lottery.
On Monday, Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani backed the CPI(M), saying sending the team to Bengal was an “assault” on the federal structure mandated by the Constitution.
He also cautioned against imposition of Central rule in West Bengal. He said Article 356 should not be taken lightly and it should be used in “rarest of rare cases”.
Article 356 of the Constitution enables the Centre to establish President's rule by dismissing any state government on failure of the constitutional machinery in the state.
In the Rajya Sabha, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the move was “violation of the Constitution” and it “will not be tolerated”. Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley supported him, saying the UPA was sending the team perhaps under pressure from its allies —a reference to the Trinamool Congress.
Though Home Minister P. Chidambaram denied any hidden agenda behind the move, Jaitley, who is in touch with other Opposition leaders, including the Left on many issues, said, “We want to show unity of the Opposition wherever and whenever it is possible.”
“The BJP’s support is issue-based. The Centre's step is violation of the Constitution and any move to impose the President's Rule would not be tolerated,” said BJP’s Lok Sabha Deputy Leader Sushma Swaraj.
Both sides, particularly the BJP, are keen that the onslaught on the government is more focused on the floor of the two Houses. A Left leader said, “We are facing the Congress (in West Bengal and Kerala), and not the BJP. If we have a common approach on certain issues, there is no harm and it does not mean we are joining hands.”
Hours after Chidambaram’s assurance, a three member team left for West Bengal.