Opposition leaders agree budget session must not be disrupted
After two consecutive days of concerted talks with Opposition leaders, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar may not have succeeded in breaking the parliamentary deadlock arising out of their continued insistence that a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) be set up to examine the 2G spectrum scam, but the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government – and the Speaker – were satisfied: they are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
The government's optimism, sources said, hinged on two facts: one, most of the Opposition leaders who attended the Speaker's meeting on Friday, while not giving up on the demand for a JPC, all accepted that the budget session should run. Two, after Thursday's meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj, neither issued any negative statement. Taken together, these are being interpreted in Congress circles as signs of “softening” on the part of the Opposition.
Sources added that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who attended the meetings, renewed the offer of a special session of Parliament to discuss the 2G spectrum scam. Another idea floating in government circles is that the Opposition could be encouraged to discuss the issue when the President's Address to Parliament in the coming budget session is taken up for discussion, as it is assumed that the speech will include references to corruption.
Ms. Kumar, who had met BJP leaders, along with Mr. Mukherjee and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal on Thursday, and those heading the non-BJP parties on Friday, was optimistic that there would be a breakthrough by the time the budget session came around.
Those who attended Friday's meeting included Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-United), M. Thambidurai (AIADMK), Nama Nageshwara Rao (Telugu Desam Party), Ajit Singh (Rashtriya Lok Dal), Dara Singh Chauhan (Bahujan Samaj Party), Basudev Acharia (CPI-M), Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI), Bhartruhari Mahtab (Biju Janata Dal).
“The leaders met in a very cordial, friendly and informal atmosphere and have decided to ensure that the next session runs without interruption,” Ms. Kumar told journalists after the two and a half hour meeting, stressing that “they have decided that they will sit together and find a solution.”
Describing the meeting as a “step forward,” she said that all those who had participated in the discussions had expressed the view that the next session should not be disrupted.