“Ready for debate in Rajya Sabha today”
NEW DELHI: There was no meeting ground in sight on the nuclear deal, with the National Democratic Alliance on Wednesday sticking to its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee and the government rejecting it as being against all parliamentary rules and not in conformity with the Constitution.
At the same time, the government indicated that it was ready to debate the deal in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, several days earlier than planned, and in the Lok Sabha on September 10.
After Parliament was repeatedly disrupted by the NDA, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee met the Leaders of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh.
The BJP leaders reiterated their demand, and Mr. Mukherjee firmly said there was no question of the government conceding it. He had already rejected it on the floor of the Lok Sabha.
It seems Mr. Mukherjee offered to discuss with the BJP any aspect of the nuclear deal it might seek clarifications on. The government was willing to sit with the party’s representatives “in camera” to clear their doubts. The mechanism set up between the UPA and the Left was not a government committee, but an internal mechanism of the ruling coalition and its supporting parties.
Separately, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R. Dasmunsi noted that in a ruling given by the Lok Sabha Speaker on August 17, the Opposition demand for a discussion under a substantive motion was rejected. The Speaker stated that disapproval of the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement was, in his opinion, “not within the competence of the House.” Mr. Dasmunsi said: “How can there be a JPC on an issue, which is not within the competence of the House?”
Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Dasmunsi indicated that the government had “requested” the Rajya Sabha Chairman to list the debate on the nuclear deal for “tomorrow” (September 6) while the discussion in the Lok Sabha could take place on September 10.