More ruffled feathers in BJP over House debate pecking order

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 11 2009, 03:08am hrs
The BJPs internal pulls and pressures show no signs of abating despite L K Advanis pleas for discipline, with many leaders now taking offence at being overlooked as partys lead speakers during various debates.

Till late on Wednesday, the party brass including the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, was fervently hoping that Yashwant Sinha would speak on the Union Budget. However, Sinha, a former Union finance minister and one of the partys most articulate voices on business and economy, is miffed at not being chosen as the lead speaker on the Budget.

That privilege went to former Union minister Murli Manohar Joshi, who counts Swadeshi economics as one of his strengths. In the Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu was given the responsibility to initiate the discussion on the Budget.

Sinha, who has stayed away often from the House this session, made a brief intervention on Wednesday, seeking an explanation from the Government on the leakage of the Budget in Jharkhand, which is under Presidents Rule. He got a prompt response from Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who promised to look into the issue.

Even the Rail Budget proved to be a tough balancing act for the BJP. While Leader of Opposition in the House Arun Jaitley initiated the discussion in the Rajya Sabha, Ananth Kumar got the honours in the Lower House. This miffed Shahnawaz Hussain who had initiated the discussion on Lalu Prasad Yadavs interim Rail Budget and he chose not to speak at all, preferring to table his speech on Wednesday.

The pecking order issue has ruffled other feathers as well. Senior MP Sumitra Mahajan wanted a priority slot for the Railway Budget discussion. Many leaders who could not be accommodated on the speakers list were asked to table their speeches, and their number was said to be around 45. Varun Gandhi was among those who expressed desire to be included as a speaker on the Union Budget, and got the nod.

BJP president Rajnath Singh, who had been looking for an opportunity to be the partys lead speaker on agriculture, will have his wish granted at lasthe will initiate the debate on agriculture during the demands for grants. Some other disgruntled leaders among the party top brass could be accommodated as lead speakers on human resource development, home and power.