The Government took the initiative to get the Bharatiya Janata Party back into the Lok Sabha on Tuesday after the main Opposition's day-long boycott of the House and the Business Advisory Committee.
But while doing so, it also rushed to defend Speaker Somnath Chatterjee against the BJP's allegation that the presiding officer as well as the ruling party had failed to take into account the Opposition's concerns by conducting the House proceedings amid confusion.
"We feel the Speaker has regularly accommodated the Opposition's views, sometimes even without consulting us,'' said Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi. The Minister's comments came a day after the BJP's boycott and on the eve of the NDA leaders' meeting to discuss Chatterjee's conduct.
The BJP is likely to put the Speaker's "behaviour'' on the scanner again on Wednesday, the 14th anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, when the Treasury and Opposition benches are likely to engage in charges and counter-charges.
But while refuting the BJP's allegations against Chatterjee, Dasmunsi said that during the BJP-NDA rule, only four adjournment motions were taken up. But in the 14th Lok Sabha five adjournment motions have already been admitted by the Speaker.
Even in the current session, the two debates--internal security and price rise--were at the Opposition's behest. "The question of not giving the Opposition a chance to raise their issue does not arise,'' Dasmunsi said. He recalled that at the floor leaders meeting on Monday, the BJP had sought permission to raise only one issue. And when it raised the issue of Rajnath Singh's arrest in the House, it did not even show the courtesy of sending a chit to the Speaker to inform him of their decision.
While the Speaker has been wondering at the relevance of floor leaders' meeting, Rajya Sabha Chairman BS Shekhawat, too, is upset that the BAC decisions are not honoured by leaders in the House. On Tuesday, Shekhawat conveyed his unhappiness to the BJP leaders after their members disrupted proceedings by storming the well of the House and then staging a walk out though they had been permitted to raise the Afzal Guru issue.
Much like he had done when the NDA had accused him of being partisan and boycotted the House for a day during the Monsoon session, the Speaker conferred with Shekhawat, exchanging notes with him on the difficulty of running the House that was marred by frequent disruptions.
The two then invited Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee to join them in the discussion. As a follow-up action, Mukherjee spoke to LK Advani and Jaswant Singh, BJP's Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively, and urged them to return to the House. He assured them that the Government was ready to discuss any issue under any rule permitted by the Chair.
Dasmunsi rejected the BJP's charge that the Government did not have any agenda when the Singur issue was raised. "They just need to take a look at the bulletin of the day's business, except for Singur all other business was there,'' he retorted.