Govt, Oppn truce: Price rise debate likely on Aug 2

Written by Pradeep Kaushal | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 31 2010, 05:01am hrs
After three days of acrimony and paralysation of both Houses of Parliament, the Centre and the Opposition got busy on Thursday to try finding a way out of the impasse on the mode of discussion on price rise. Sources indicated a solution was in sight and both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha were likely to discuss price rise on a mutually-agreed format on Monday.

Sources said the Opposition was insistent upon a debate under Rule 184, which implied voting at the end. The Centre was opposed to it because it meant the same as an adjournment motion. The focus is now shifted to the formulation of the motion to be taken up for discussion to find a common meeting ground between the two sides. The motion may express a concern of the House over price rise, sources said.

Speaker Meira Kumar said in reply to a question that she had received notices for a debate under Rule 184 and she was considering them. Those who have given notices included leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav, CPI(M) leader Basudeb Acharia and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta. We are trying to find a way out, Kumar told media adding, Price rise is a serious issue and people also want something to happen. Let us see how we find a way out by taking everyone together.

Before peace efforts got underway, both Houses were adjourned for the day after the Opposition disrupted proceedings and demanded that the presiding officers allow discussions on price rise under Rule 184 in the Lok Sabha and under Rule 168 in the Rajya Sabha. We will not allow Question Hour, Swaraj declared. The House must discuss price rise first, she added. While maintaining that we were saddened by her ruling on Wednesday, she told the Speaker that since you had said that the issue of price rise can be discussed under any other rule, we want Question Hour to be set aside and a discussion on the matter taken up immediately.

Sharad Yadav was more devastating. Taking a potshot at the Speaker, he said she was more affectionate towards leader of the House and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee than the Oppostion. Ek varsh ho gaya hai, aapka prem Pranab Babu ki taraf to khoob jhalakta hai, lekin hum logon ki taraf aapki daya kabhi nahin hoti (It has been a year now, your affection towards Pranab babu abounds, but you are never kind to us). We in the Opposition could not sleep overnight, thinking how to approach the Speaker, Yadav told Kumar pointing out that she was the highest authority. They could not confront her, but they had to face people, who asked them what were they doing about inflation. We have given a notice under Rule 184 after a lot of thought, he said.

Minister for parliamentary affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal said the Centre had never taken the stand that it did not want a discussion on any issue. The Opposition leaders put forth their views for 90 minutes on Wednesday. He said since Sudip Bandyopadhyay of Trinamool Congress had given a notice under Rule 193 (which implies simple discussion and no voting) and it should get precedence (over notices given under Rule 184).

This triggered protests from the Opposition. Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, who spoke next, said never before had the Opposition come together on a single issue. Given the fact that the Opposition is speaking in one voice, a discussion under Rule 184 should be allowed.