The Rajya Sabha logjam shows no signs of abating but, with several parties keen to put their voices on record on demonetisation, Opposition sources hinted Lok Sabha might see the ice melting should the government reach out. The overwhelming mood, however, remains in favour of discussion under a rule that allows voting, something the government is not in a mood to concede.
Opposition sources say there are four options under which demonetisation can be discussed in Lok Sabha – under rule 56, rule 184 (both of which have a provision for voting) or rule 193 that does not have that provision, or during zero hour.
“Parties are keen that their voices too should be heard in Lok Sabha on demonetisation, so there is an increasing chance that the House will function provided the government reaches out,” said an Opposition MP. “So far there has been nothing from the government after the invitation to meet the home minister, which no party went to in solidarity with those in the Opposition ranks who had not been called. But it has to be under a voting motion – either rule 56 or 184. In the latter case the discussion has to end in the same day with a vote and can be allowed by the Speaker.”
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Agreeing to a discussion under rule 193 or during zero hour would be a “capitulation” he conceded. “What’s the point in speaking for two minutes?” he said about zero hour. Speaker Sumita Mahajan was optimistic that Lok Sabha would start functioning in a day or two. “I am trying, I am repeatedly requesting. I hope it will function. When both sides – the ruling party and the Opposition – are ready for discussion, both want discussion, under which rule it has to be done, that has to be discussed. I think in the next one or two days, it will start.” Mahajan told reporters outside Parliament House.
Mahajan said she is willing to take the initiative to bring everybody together. “Why not? I will definitely do that and I have been doing so as well. Attempts are going on. At one point, I am quite sure that everybody will accept something.” she said. But she was noncommittal when asked if she would review her decision not to allow an adjournment motion. “Let us see. We want that the House should run. For that, let us see what happens. I will have to talk to both of them…. Under which rule, all of them have to decide together. Only one person cannot decide,” she said.
Rajya Sabha, however, would need an extraordinary effort from the government to run. Almost all major parties except the BJD have already participated in a discussion in Rajya Sabha and the Opposition continues to demand an apology from the prime minister for comments made outside the House. “There is no going back on the demand for the PM’s apology, that at least for now was the decision in the opposition strategy meeting this morning. The chances of Rajya Sabha running are almost zero,” said a source who was present in an Opposition strategy meeting.