Two days ahead of the Parliament opening on Thursday, BJP leader and head of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yashwant Sinha, indicated areas where the government could get critical bills passed, provided, he underscored, the government chose not to be obdurate. While Sinha was critical of statements by commerce minister Anand Sharma saying executive decisions like FDI in retail couldn’t be questioned by those who had blinkers on, he suggested the BJP may not go with Mamata Banerjee’s no-confidence motion against FDI in retail—a decision will be taken later today. The Banking Regulation Act, which would allow RBI to start processing new bank licences, he indicated could get passed. Excerpts from an interview with Sunil Jain and Shobhana Subramanian:
Will you allow Parliament to function?
We’ll try our best, but a lot depends on whether the government chooses to be obdurate. Three days before Parliament opens, how can Anand Sharma say executive decisions cannot be questioned by Parliament and how does he expect us to cooperate when he accuses us of having blinkers on?
Are executive decisions ratified by Parliament? Did you ever allow this when you were in power?
Of course they are challenged; how else does Parliament express itself? Voting against something expresses dissatisfaction with the government. No-confidence motions are not the only way to do this. In the Lokpal case, Pranab Mukherjee summarised the sense of the House. The nuclear deal didn’t need Parliament’s approval, but the government sought it.
Have you ever allowed voting on your decisions?
Of course we have. We allowed an adjournment motion on UTI even though the government could have fallen on it. When the Congress wanted a motion to condemn the US invasion of Iraq, we put together a resolution and it was passed by Parliament.
So you’ll go along with Mamata Banerjee’s no-confidence motion?
We’ll take a decision on how we will tackle this later today. We could go along, for instance, with CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta’s view of having a discussion under Rule 193 without voting. There is voting under Rule 184; we even have a Rule 185 that allows voting but in a friendly manner, after parties agree on a resolution (like we did on Iraq). I had moved a resolution like this on inflation.
What does ‘depends on how obdurate the government is’ mean? Does it mean the government has to withdraw FDI in retail for Parliament to function?
In the case of a JPC on 2G, the