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House in mess: BJP for debate, CPM says no

The government’s first attempt to avoid a deadlock failed with the BJP refusing to relent on its demand that the debate be Nandigram-specific.

india Updated: Nov 20, 2007 02:43 IST
HT Political Bureau
HT Political Bureau
Hindustan Times

Parliament is heading for a stalemate over Nandigram with the Trinamool Congress and the BJP insisting on an area-specific debate, the CPM opposing it and the government resisting any adjournment motion on the subject.

The government’s first attempt to avoid a deadlock failed with the BJP refusing to relent on its demand that the debate be Nandigram-specific.

On Monday, both Houses were adjourned because of repeated disruptions as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani gave notice for moving an adjournment motion on Nandigram. The government and the Marxists, for separate reasons, told a meeting of floor leaders called by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee that they will not agree to such a debate.

In his notice, Advani wanted to discuss the Centre’s failure to intervene in Nandigram. The BJP’s effort appeared intended to keep the Trinamool on its side, drive a wedge in the UPA and the Left and deepen differences between the Left parties on the issue, with the saffron party raising the slogan of sabse pehle Nandigram, peeche baki sara kaam (first Nandigram, other business later).

BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and V.K. Malhotra told reporters later that the Opposition would not allow Parliament to function unless Nandigram was debated.

But the government argued that an adjournment motion deals with the Centre’s failure whereas the issue here related to the state government. Also, the Governor and the courts cannot be discussed, it said.

The CPM argued that state-specific issues cannot be debated in Parliament, a stand endorsed later by RJD’s Lalu Yadav who alleged the BJP was seeking a debate on Nandigram only to conceal the Tehelka expose of its “kalank” (blot) of Gujarat.

The Speaker, who left it to parties to find a way out, has repeatedly stated that he would allow discussion on any subject if the notice was in proper form and under a proper rule.

The government tried to look for a middle ground by rewording Advani’s notice so that there could be a general discussion under 193 in the Lok Sabha and under 176 in the Rajya Sabha. It sought to tone it down by linking Nandigram to other atrocities like those in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

“The Leader of Opposition did not agree with the draft. He wanted to bring the Governor’s statement and the High Court judgment into it,’’ said government sources, adding that Mukherjee will talk to Advani again. They said the NDA agreed that the issue should not be discussed under an adjournment motion.

In Kolkata, Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal ruled out Central rule in West Bengal. “I do not know what Mamata Banerjee is saying, but the situation does not warrant imposition of Article 356.”

First Published: Nov 20, 2007 02:42 IST