In a bid to end the row over the missing coal files, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited late on Tuesday night three senior leaders of the BJP at a short notice to seek the cooperation of the principal Opposition party for the passage of some of the key pending bills.
There was a sense of urgency in Dr. Singh’s initiative, as the extended monsoon session of Parliament is to end on Friday and he would return to India after the conclusion of the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg on Saturday.
The BJP, which was not satisfied with the statement of the Prime Minister in both Houses on the missing coal files, along with some of the other Opposition parties, did not allow Parliament to function for the rest of the day.
It was so furious over what it perceives as a deliberate effort not to allow senior Opposition leaders to seek greater clarity from the Prime Minister on his statement that it chose to stay away from a meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Tuesday afternoon to resolve the row.
Subsequently, it decided to raise the issue in Parliament on Wednesday, which could jeopardise the crucial Land Acquisition Bill that has been approved by the Lok Sabha.
Besides this Bill, the government is keen to get a couple of other bills, including the Pensions Fund Bill, passed in the hope it would help lift the sense of pessimism in the market over the state of the economy.
It is believed that the Prime Minister personally called up BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to sort out issues that came up after his statement in Parliament earlier in the day on the missing files.
According to sources, Dr. Singh is expected to tell these leaders that at the moment he was not in a position to throw much light on the missing files, as the case was before the Supreme Court.
“Effort is on to convey to the BJP leaders how keen the government is to ensure the normal functioning of Parliament in the next three days to clear some of the important bills,” a senior official said.
Earlier in the day, the BJP led the Opposition attack in Parliament and expressed dissatisfaction over the Prime Minister’s statement, saying their queries were not answered and steps taken by government to recover the files was not listed.
“All norms were broken in the Lok Sabha. The Leader of the Opposition was insulted when she was not permitted to speak. Her mike was muted. Even Advani, who rarely raises his hand to speak, was not allowed. Have you heard of a Parliament in the world where the Leader of the Opposition is not allowed to speak?” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said at a news conference.
His case was that when the NDA was in power, former Prime Ministers and senior leaders from the Opposition benches were always allowed to raise issues. But Mr. Advani, a former Deputy Prime Minister, was not given permission by the Chair on Tuesday.