Lok Sabha could discuss the Lokpal issue on Saturday after a statement on it either by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The consensus emerged at a meeting of the Leader of the House and all political parties in the office of Speaker Meira Kumar.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat said there is a likelihood that the discussion will start on Saturday after either of the two Ministers make a statement as demanded by Opposition parties in the meeting.
Commenting on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s opposition to hold the discussion under rule 193, which does not entail voting, Mr. Rawat said that the Oppostion party’s demand to discuss the matter under rule 184 that entails voting was an “after-thought“.
He said that even in Friday’s meeting a number of other political parties were not supportive of the demand for holding the discussion under rule 184.
Sources said that the BJP gave two options to the government — either accept its demand for discussion under rule 184 or commence it in the House after a statement by the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister.
“A middle path is that begin the disucussion after a Minister’s statement. Let us not go either by rule 184 or rule 193,” another Union Minister said on condition of anonymity.
Young Congress MPs Milind Deora, Jitin Prasada, Deepinder Singh Hooda and Sachin Pilot also discussed the issue with the Speaker.
Earlier, Union Ministers Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Rajiv Shukla huddled for a meeting in Mr. Bansal’s room. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister later also had a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Sources in the government said holding the discussion under rule 184 will in a way tie the hands of the Standing Committee, which is examining the Lokpal issue.
They said that the Committee, which has to give shape to a law making process, will unnecessarily get a sense of its hands being tied if there is any resolution with voting on the contents of the proposed law by Parliament.
Amid demands from Team Anna, a move to take up a discussion on friday in the Lok Sabha on the Lokpal issue turned contentious with the BJP-led NDA opposing the debate under rule 193, which does not entail voting, forcing adjournment of the House for an hour.
Mr. Bansal as also Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal sought to counter them in the House by asking what was BJP’s stand.
“It is the BJP’s duplicity. You say something inside and something outside,” said Mr. Bansal, asking the opposition party whether it was not wanting a discussion on the Lokpal issue.
Immediately after the House was adjourned, Mr. Bansal told reporters outside Parliament that the government wanted a discussion on the Lokpal issue, but the effort was foiled.
“We do wish to take it forward. Notices are in the House. They are the property of the House. I am hopeful it would now be held tomorrow morning. We did try to start the discussion. Somehow that effort has been foiled. Now is the private members business at 3.30 p.m., our effort will be that the discussion be taken up tomorrow morning.”
On when the discussion would now be held, Mr. Bansal said, “I am pained as we wanted a discussion now. Just because I had said there may not be any discussion in the morning, the Oppposition did not allow it to happen.”
“If all agree, the House can adopt a unanimous resolution,” he said.
Mr. Bansal also reminded that when all the members rushed to the House on Friday afternoon, “it was a peculiar sight. It was rather a unique sight of sorts.”
On why he did not take the Leader of the Opposition into confidence, Mr. Bansal said, “I could not take the Leader of Opposition into confidence, but I did leave a message at her office that the discussion may be taken up immediately after lunch, even though I could not meet her."