Speaker seeks smooth session, Opposition wants Uttarakhand debate
New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Sunday sought the cooperation of all parties for the smooth functioning of parliament during the session starting on Monday but the Uttarakhand developments are likely to overshadow proceedings with the opposition demanding a debate on the issue while the government appears keen to avoid it as long as the matter is before the court.
At an all-party meeting convened by her here, Mahajan made a strong pitch for the session’s smooth functioning.
“All parties have promised they will cooperate to ensure a fruitful and functional session,” she said later.
But opposition parties, led by the Congress along with a number of regional parties including Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Biju Janata Dal (BJD), seemed to have geared up for taking on the BJP-led dispensation with all their might for its “misuse” of the Constitution’s Article 356.
Since February, the central government has dismissed Congress governments in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
However, minor differences surfaced among the opposition parties on the rules under which the debate could be held.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said his party will move an adjournment motion under rule 56 in the house and expressed happiness that several other parties were in support.
BJD leader Bhartuhari Mahtab, however, told IANS his party wants a debate under rule 193 — implying the house proceedings need not be suspended and the debate can be held in time agreed upon by all sides and decided by the chair.
Government sources, meanwhile, said the possibility of acceptance of an adjournment motion is remote as “no motion which seeks to raise discussion on a matter pending before any statutory tribunal or statutory authority performing any judicial or quasi-judicial functions can be raised under rule 56”.
Members from Trinamool Congress, another regional party, did not attend Sunday’s meeting as the party MPs are tied up in the ongoing electioneering in West Bengal.
The new session of parliament begins on April 25 since the budget session was prorogued last month to facilitate the promulgation of an ordinance to meet the financial requirements of Uttarakhand, where central rule was imposed on March 27.
Government sources said they were ready to discuss all issues in both houses, including drought and imposition of central rule in Uttarakhand — but with a rider.
“We are ready to discuss all issues provided they do not clash with matters that are sub-judice,” a source quoted a government representative as saying at the meeting.
Mahajan too said: “The issue of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand is sub-judice. I don’t think it can be discussed before April 27.”
BJD leader Mahtab also demanded a debate on water scarcity. “At the meeting I also pointed out that the problem in most parts of the country has moved beyond drought. What we face today is water scarcity and, therefore, more detailed and proper debate should be held on water scarcity.”
The session, to be treated as a “fresh” one, will continue till May 13.
“Normally, the budget session is split into two sessions. This time, it will be an entirely new session as both houses of parliament were prorogued to facilitate constitutional requirements of Uttarakhand,” said a parliamentary official.
Ministers Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Rajiv Pratap Rudy represented the ruling side at the meeting.
During the session, government sources said, efforts to get the support of opposition parties for the passage of key legislations, including the long-pending Goods and Services Tax Bill, are expected to yield positive results.
Issues pertaining to the Ishrat Jahan case and the Malegaon blast may figure prominently, especially in the Lok Sabha, BJP leaders said.
Congress Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma has given a notice for the suspension of Question Hour to discuss the Uttarakhand issue.
Meanwhile, some MPs from states where electioneering is at its peak have complained about the timing of the parliament session.
“With election process on in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it is natural that MPs from these states will be campaigning for their respective parties and candidates. I think the timing of this session is not suitable,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist’s P. Karunakaran.