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NDA-Speaker stand-off nearing reconciliation

Two rounds of discussions between LS Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and NDA leaders indicates reconciliation is round the corner, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2006 00:56 IST

Two rounds of discussions between Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and NDA leaders on Thursday indicated reconciliation was round the corner. NDA leaders said they would decide on Friday on ending the boycott of the meetings chaired by the Speaker and the Lok Sabha's business advisory committee.

The boycott was called following a row over the BJP's charge that the Speaker had not let its MPs raise the issue of the arrest of party chief Rajnath Singh on Monday last.

The Speaker is understood to have told the Opposition leaders that he never had any "intention" to deny them space or cause humiliation. They conveyed to him that they were upset they could not raise urgent issues of "public importance." They also said they did not like his remarks against them.

Chatterjee denied that he was guided by the treasury benches in the conduct of the House proceedings. He said, though he did make some comments against the conduct of some members, he bore no ill will or malice against any one or party.

Chatterjee said he was against allowing issues to be raised without proper notice. The BJP leaders said urgent developments like Rajnath's arrest could not notified before the House sat for the day. They recalled that Congress members had stalled Parliament in 1977-78 when Indira Gandhi was arrested by the Morarji Desai government.

Significantly, Thursday's discussions were conducted in a conducive atmosphere compared to the tension of the last three days, sources said.

Leader of Opposition LK Advani told the Speaker in a lighter vein that, when he was the presiding officer of the Delhi Metropolitan Council, he was told that the maxim for him was that he should talk less for conducting the House better.

BJP's deputy leader in Lok Sabha VK Malhotra said a decision on calling off the boycott was put off till Friday morning as other NDA leaders, namely those of the Akali Dal and the Shiv Sena could not be present in the second round of discussions with the Speaker.

The mood for talks between the NDA and the Speaker was set by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who spoke to Advani, seeking the Opposition's cooperation in the smooth conduct of the House.

Advani told them that the opposition could not accept the Speaker conducting the proceedings through din, which was against the rules.

First Published: Dec 08, 2006 00:56 IST