Walls up in paralysed House, BJP snubs Pranab
So much so that the BJP today rebuffed Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's personal assurance that a discussion would be taken on the Prime Minister's statement on the WikiLeaks cash-for-vote disclosure after the passage of the Finance Bill.
Mukherjee spoke to Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj in the morning seeking her party's cooperation to ensure the passage of the Finance Bill. He conveyed to her that the government would like to pass the Finance Bill first and told her that he was ready to give an assurance in the House that a short-duration discussion on the PM's statement — for which the BJP had given notices in both the Houses — would be taken up after the passage of the Bill.
The BJP elders, who met soon after, discussed Mukherjee's offer and sources said they were of the unanimous view that the party should insist on a discussion first, reflecting the lack of trust the Opposition has in the government.
"What if the government goes back on its word after the passage of the Finance Bill?" was said to be a common concern among the BJP top brass. They also feared that even if the government agreed for a discussion, the Congress MPs would not allow the Opposition to speak.
Besides, the BJP leadership felt, since the House was adjourned on this issue on Friday, it was only fair to discuss it first. The other leaders of the NDA concurred.
Minutes before the Lok Sabha met, BJP Parliamentary Party chairman L K Advani rang up Speaker Meira Kumar and conveyed the party's view.
Swaraj said she had also made it clear to Mukherjee that the BJP had no intention to put hurdles in the passage of the Finance Bill and create a constitutional crisis for the government. Kumar told Advani she would the ask the government to reconsider its stand.
As the House met, the BJP members vociferously put forth their demand leading to an adjournment. Similar scenes were enacted in the Rajya Sabha.
Swaraj said she spoke to Mukherjee again after the House was adjourned at 12.30 pm and even suggested that the discussion could be taken up in the Rajya Sabha, pointing out that the Upper House was not discussing the Finance Bill and hence could debate the matter. That way, the BJP would be assured that the government was serious on holding a debate.
But that offer was turned down as Mukherjee told Swaraj that the discussion would be taken up simultaneously in both the Houses tomorrow. With no meeting ground emerging, NDA members boycotted the debate on the Finance Bill, with Swaraj herself leading a walkout.
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