Government appears to have defused a confrontation for now in Parliament by persuading the Opposition to have a discussion on the issue of price rise in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday under a rule that does not entail voting.
Parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters that the Lower House would take up the discussion on the statement of finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on the price situation.
Bansal's announcement is significant given the fact that on Tuesday the Left parties had declared that they are firm on taking up an adjournment motion in Parliament on spiralling prices.
The Winter Session of Parliament had got off to a stormy start on Tuesday with opposition in the Lok Sabha raising a variety of issues and the Left parties protesting against price rise and giving an adjournment motion on the issue.
Bansal's announcement came close on the heels of a luncheon meeting Mukherjee had with the Left leaders and Business Advisory Committee meeting of the Lok Sabha.
The Left leaders present at the luncheon meeting with Mukherjee were CPI-M leaders Sitaram Yechury and Basudeb Acharia and CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta and D Raja.
Congress sources said that Mukherjee would be reaching out with other parties also including the BJP through such luncheon meetings. A meeting with SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav is likely on Wednesday.
On the other hand, Yechury said discussions on the price situation have been held in the past two sessions and unanimous resolutions passed earlier "calling upon the government to take all measures to protect the common man".
"But no action has been initiated so far. Food inflation has risen to 12% and the overall inflation rate is escalating exponentially", he said.
As steps to check rising prices, the Left parties are demanding an end to deregulation of petroleum prices, rollback of the hikes in petrol prices, ban on forward and speculative trading on all essential commodities and universalisation of the public distribution system.
BJP leader and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha rubbished Mukherjee's 11-page statement on price rise tabled in the Lok sabha on Tuesday. Sinha said "we dismiss the finance minister's statement...we are not satisfied with the government's excuses on price rise and
"What concerns us is that the common man will not tolerate the continued price rise in the country. We will not be surprised that rising inflation will become a reason for them to resort to violence," said Sinha.