Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Monday said it saw no merit in holding a discussion on the India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement since no amount of debate would change anything in it. However, the party was keen to push its privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“We want the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha to give an immediate ruling [on the privilege motion],” CPI(M) Parliamentary Party leader Sitaram Yechury told journalists. He said this was needed since the government was taking refuge behind the technicality that Dr. Singh was not a member of the Lok Sabha.

Mr. Yechury said the party’s leader in the Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia, whose motion was pending in the House, was told at a meeting of party leaders that technically a privilege motion could only be moved against a member of the House.

The CPI(M) moved the motion on the ground that the Prime Minister had violated his own assurance that the government would come before Parliament before operationalising the 123 Agreement with the U.S.

Mr. Yechury said the formal signing of an agreement between External Affairs Minster Pranab Mukherjee and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington earlier this month “merits a breach of privilege motion.”

While maintaining that the Prime Minister had assured to come before Parliament and did not specifically mention any House, Mr. Yechury said the party’s motion in the Rajya Sabha pointed to a similar assurance made by Dr. Singh in February 2006.

“Under consideration”

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he had received the privilege notice against the Prime Minister and it was under his consideration. Mr. Chatterjee said this when agitated Left members wanted to raise the issue of alleged breach of privilege against Dr. Singh in the House.

Raising the issue, Mr. Acharia said the government went to the U.S. without informing the House, and the Prime Minister owed an explanation. This was a breach of privilege, he said.

Several other Left MPs also rose in support of Mr. Acharia, but were pacified when the Speaker assured them that the notice was under his consideration.