BJP wants Parliament adjourned for Thackeray, govt opposes

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The government has opposed the BJP's plea to adjourn the first day of the winter session of Parliament on Thursday as a mark of respect to Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray who died last week.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath conveyed the government's decision to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar Wednesday evening after the all-party meeting chaired by her, sources said. The government's stand is similar to that taken by the Left at the speaker's meeting where the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj made the proposal to adjourn the first day.

Besides the Left, even the RJD and most other parties were disapproving of the suggestion. They said Thackeray could not be given this honour because he had been disenfranchised by a Supreme Court order in 1996, and debarred from contesting elections for six years on grounds of seeking votes in the name of religion.

The CPM's Basudeb Acharia had raised this point in the all-party meeting today. Later, Acharia told The Indian Express that parliamentary conventions aside, one had to bear in mind the fact that "Thackeray was the only political leader who had been disenfranchised". Asked how this issue was expected to pan out, Acharia said, "Normally, leaders of parties are consulted before a decision to adjourn the house after making obituary references is taken. We have not been consulted yet."

Acharia was backed by CPM parliamentary party leader Sitaram Yechury. While maintaining that there was a tradition of adjourning a house only in the case of the death of a sitting member, Yechury told The Indian Express "that tradition was never destroyed and it should not be destroyed now".

NCP leader and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, however, was supportive of the proposal given Thackeray's appeal in Maharashtra. The suggestion was first made by Swaraj, followed by Sena floor leader Anant Geete.

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