President Hu may address joint session
When Chinese President Hu Jintao visits India in November, he may do what his United States counterpart George Bush did not in March — address a joint sitting of Parliament.
In Bush's case, Washington itself was reluctant to press for this privilege, fearing the embarrassment of a likely boycott by the Left. In contrast the Communists are more than ready to welcome Hu.
If the government's proposal gets China's assent, the start of Parliament's winter session will have to be advanced from November 27 to November 22.
The decision for such a joint address is taken by the governments of the two countries concerned. In India, the tradition is for the government to first sound out its allies and other political parties, including the opposition, on the issue.
On Wednesday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister PR Dasmunsi discussed the matter with CPI general secretary AB Bardhan.
Later, Bardhan revealed that Hu might address a joint session. "But a lot of discussion precedes it," he said.
"We were against Bush from the beginning. In the case of Bill Clinton, we did not oppose his addressing the joint session. We only chose not to attend it. It is a matter between the two governments. The government does not need our permission. He (Dasmunsi) mentioned it. We are fine with it."
Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI(M), is yet to be sounded out. But he too is okay with it. "Why should we have a problem?" he said. "We opposed Bush because of the US occupation of Iraq. Others have addressed joint sessions before."
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