“Government cannot go to Connaught Place, Parliament is the proper forum”
NEW DELHI: When given a chance to reply to a debate in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will give a point-by-point response to all the fears and apprehensions expressed by the leaders of the Left parties and the Bharatiya Janata Party on the India-United States nuclear cooperation agreement.
“The Government cannot go to Connaught Place and begin shouting. Parliament is the proper forum,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said here on Thursday soon after both the Left and the BJP referred to the provisions of the Hyde Act and a statement by an official of the United States administration that the deal would be off if India were to test a nuclear device.
Separately, there were notices given by BJP leaders in both Houses for a discussion on the deal under rules that mandate a vote may not be found to be in order as they were in conflict with the Constitution. One such notice to the Speaker says that the House demands that the Government re-negotiate the deal. Since under the Indian Constitution this power rests with the executive, not with the legislature, the notice may once again be rejected, although by and large in the current Lok Sabha all demands from the Opposition for a discussion in the House have been agreed upon under a rule preferred by the Opposition.
Despite persistent questions by the media on how the Government plans to face the political crisis on the issue on which it finds itself in a minority, Mr. Dasmunsi said confidently that the Government would complete its full term. “Whatever problems are there will be resolved,” he added.
He said all parties, including the Left which supported the Government, had the right to express their fears and apprehensions on issues relating to India’s sovereignty. “But those points must be made in Parliament and answers sought on the floor of the House, not outside. It is in Parliament; the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister will meet their criticism point-by-point.”
He said that after the discussion on floods is completed — he found fault with parties for not taking the flood situation seriously and not allowing the discussion to be completed by repeatedly disrupting proceedings — the Business Advisory Committee could fix a time for the debate on the nuclear deal. This would be subject to the availability of the Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister who will be busy with the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit from August 21 to 23.
He is scheduled to address a joint sitting of Parliament on August 22.
This could mean that if the debate takes place, it could well be postponed to after August 23.
He faulted parties for dishonouring their assurance not to disturb the House during question hour and raise the issues they wanted during zero hour. On the notices of privilege against the Prime Minister given by BJP MPs, the Minister said the presiding officers would first have to take decisions on these on merit.