But government and Opposition differ on rules under which discussions will be held in Parliament

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the Opposition have agreed to discuss key issues — price rice and corruption and black money — in the monsoon session of Parliament, which began on Monday. But Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said the two sides still need to narrow down differences on the rules under which these issues would be discussed. “I hope we will come to an understanding over the next couple of days,” he told journalists.

The principal opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, would like the two issues to be discussed under Rule 184 in the Lok Sabha and Rule 167 in the Rajya Sabha, both of which entail voting, while the government is making a pitch to discuss them under Rule 193 in the Lower House and Rule 176 in the Upper House, neither of which involves a determination by the Houses.

Motion on corruption

Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, however, told journalists that while the government had no objection in principle to the NDA's proposal to table a motion under Rule 184 on price rise, it would like to see the wording of another proposed motion under the same rule, on corruption, before spelling out its position. Government sources confirmed that they were waiting to see the wording of the Opposition's motion on corruption before taking a view on it.

There was also the possibility of a common resolution emerging from the discussion, government sources added. But suggestions that a unanimous resolution asking the government to take steps to control price rise had not found favour with the Opposition as an earlier effort made no impact.

Pranab’s assurance

Ms. Swaraj said Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee had assured her and NDA Working Chairman L.K. Advani at a meeting on Sunday that the government would consider their motion on corruption. “We intend to table a motion in the Rajya Sabha on both price rise and corruption under Rule 167,” she said. “We hope the government would show flexibility on our demand for a discussion on the corruption under a rule that entails voting.”

Asked why the NDA, which is so concerned about ‘corruption' in the UPA, is not seeking a motion on corruption first, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said: “We are not a one issue party and alliance.”

The Left parties have taken a slightly different position: they would like to move an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha, while they concur with the BJP line in the Rajya Sabha.

While the Opposition's common strategy to attack the government on price rise is on course, the parties differ on tactics: the Left and non-BJP parties have decided to press for an adjournment motion on the issue on Tuesday, with MPs from the Left, the Biju Janata Dal and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, among others, giving notice for the same.

CPI Parliamentary Party leader Gurudas Dasgupta said the adjournment motion would be a ‘litmus test' for the government and send a message that Parliament was serious about an issue that affected a majority of the people.

However, in the Rajya Sabha, the Opposition, including the Left, plan to give notice under a rule that required voting on the question.

However, all parties agreed to have a short duration discussion on terrorism, with specific reference to the recent attacks in Mumbai, in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Government sources said they hoped that in this session they would be able to have one discussion and a maximum of two calling attention motions each week so that the rest of the time could be used to push through the legislative business.

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