The government will wait till Monday to see if the BJP will allow the two Houses of Parliament to function before deciding whether the monsoon session should be adjourned sine die ahead of its scheduled closure on September 14.
The debate on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, which failed to take off in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, is listed for discussion in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
The BJP-NDA and the Third Front parties kept up the chant of “no JPC, no House’’ and “JPC lao, desh bachao,’’ paralysing proceedings in both Houses. This, though the Rajya Sabha discussion was listed in their names.
However, in the Lower House, the government managed to pass three Bills—including the Competition and Cigarettes and other tobacco products Bills.
The government rejected the demand for a debate, followed by a vote and a joint parliamentary committee, citing Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s ruling that the House has “no competence’’ to scrutinise international agreements. It also took on the Opposition over the charges that the UPA-Left panel to address the Left’s concerns on the deal was to save the government and that it was ignoring the consensus on foreign policy.
“The government’s continuance is dependent on the Left’s and not the NDA’s support. Till the last moment, I shall try to see the government survives,’’ said External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The minister, who on Wednesday offered a separate talks-mechanism to BJP leaders LK Advani and Jaswant Singh to break the stalemate, has still not heard from them.
According to Mukherjee, the UPA-Left panel is an internal arrangement that has nothing to do with Parliament or the government. He pointed out that the Congress had never sought to know what transpired in the NDA when George Fernandes quit as defence minister after the Tehelka expose and was then re-inducted.
As for consensus on foreign policy, Mukherjee retorted: “Did you see a consensus in 1974 and 1998 (when the Pokhran blasts took place) or on the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty in 1971? Did the NDA inform Parliament of its discussion on a strategic partnership with the US?’’ he asked. said there is a broad consensus on issues like NAM, friendship with neighbours and economic development.
Dasmunsi added a new twist. “Some quarters in the BJP have said they are continuing with it under Chennai’s directions.” The comment was a reference to Jayalalitha who the BJP is reportedly courting in its quest for allies for the next Lok Sabha polls.