The first week of the second part of Budget Session of Parliament washed out, a thaw in the current stalemate may be possible next week.
While regional parties from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have been protesting over state issues, and holding up proceedings along with other opposition parties, the more strident critics of the government — the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Left parties — suspect that their noisy protests are a creation of the BJP.
They believe the government is propping up these parties to dilute the bank fraud issue, which they want to take up in a big way. This perception is based on the fact that these parties are either aligned with the BJP — like the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) — or are friendly with the NDA government, like YSR Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and AIADMK. Besides, issues these parties are raising have to be resolved by the Central government, therefore it makes no sense to paralyse the two Houses, many in the Opposition feel.
The Congress, TMC, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Left are pressing for a discussion on the bank fraud, allegedly effected by Nirav Modi, under a rule which entails voting at the end. The motion must mention the Punjab National Bank fraud, they contend.
The Lok Sabha agenda listed for now states that N K Premachandran of RSP, a Left Front constituent, and K C Venugopal of the Congress will “raise a discussion on alleged systemic irregularities in banking sector over the years and its impact on Indian economy”.
Sources said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has already indicated during informal discussions with Opposition leaders that the government may reformulate the motion to accommodate their demand, and that this move has Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s backing.
On Friday, Mahajan told the media that she is engaged in a “daily dialogue with (all) parties” for the purpose.
The Congress has also brought about the dispute over the Rule under which the discussion should take place. While Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress’s floor leader in Lok Sabha, has given notice for a discussion under Rule 184, which is a sort of censure motion necessitating voting at the end, party whip K C Venugopal has given a notice under Rule 193, which implies a talk-out debate and does not involve voting.
Sources said the Congress may climb down a bit and press for the admission of an adjournment motion. Other opposition parties are said to favour this idea. The Speaker told the media in response to questions that it is not necessary which Rule is invoked. The more important point is that parties talk with one another. “The first thing is that the House should run. Rule, one can see later,” she said.
Sources pointed out that demands of regional parties of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have lost steam.
The Union Water Resources Ministry has already initiated a process for the implementation of the recent Supreme Court order on sharing of Cauvery river water. The ministry has convened a consultation meeting with chief secretaries of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry. So, it will get untenable for the AIADMK to be part of this exercise and simultaneously agitate on the issue in Parliament. Also, the Centre has taken a final position on the TDP-YSR Congress demand for a special status for Andhra Pradesh, and BJP and Telugu Desam have decided to stay together in an alliance thereafter.
The initial round over, next week may see MPs get down to serious business involving key financial business in the Budget Session.