Government for parliament session in September, BJP wants it soon (Second Lead)

August 5th, 2008 - 7:53 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Bharatiya Janata Party
By Liz Mathew
New Delhi, Aug 5 (IANS) The government has decided to convene the monsoon session of parliament, earlier expected to begin Aug 11, in the second of week of September to get itself more time to focus on restoring peace in violence-hit Jammu region, but the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday demanded it should be called at “the earliest”. “The government is keen to convene the session immediately to take up the legislation to provide social security and other welfare measures to the unorganised sector. But the government wants to bring back normalcy in (the) troubled areas,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi told IANS here.

However, Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani demanded that the session should be convened soon to discuss the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following protests over the Amarnath land transfer controversy as well as the back-to-back terrorist attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

“I would call upon the government to convene the monsoon session at the earliest so that important issues facing the country, including the terror situation, Jammu and Kashmir and price rise could be discussed,” Advani said at the inauguration of the newly built Chhattisgarh House in the national capital.

The parliamentary affairs minister argued that the government too wanted to focus more on the burning issues.

“The UPA government has full faith in parliament. But we do not want to be distracted in our attempts to bring peace,” Ravi added.

A special two-day session was called in July to move a trust motion, after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was reduced to a minority in parliament with the Left parties withdrawing support to it. The Manmohan Singh government proved its majority in the Lok Sabha July 22.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, which met last week, put off a decision on convening the monsoon session. Usually, a notice of 21 days is given for a session so that ministries and departments prepare themselves for the Question Hour in parliament.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which has become a vocal critic of the government after withdrawing support to it, has vowed to give a hard time to it in parliament.

CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat has dared the UPA government to try passing in parliament any economic bills, including those relating to pension funds, banking and insurance sector.

Asked about Karat’s warning, Ravi said: “Let’s see.”

According to Congress sources, the government is concerned about the smooth functioning of parliament in the wake of the cash-for-votes scam that erupted during the trust vote debate.

A seven-member Lok Sabha panel, set up to look into allegations by three Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs that they were bribed to abstain in the trust vote, is likely to seek more time to submit its report. It was expected to conclude its findings by Aug 11.

Congress MP Kishore Chandra Deo, who heads the committee set up by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, is expected to seek more time to complete the report. The panel has already viewed the video and audio tapes of a TV channel’s sting operation on the alleged bribery episode.

The three MPs - Ashok Argal, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Mahavir Bhagora - stunned the nation as they brandished wads of cash in the Lok Sabha shortly before the government was to face the trust vote. They accused Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel of offering them bribes to abstain.

Congress leaders, embarrassed over the incident, indicated they were not in a position to face parliament till the committee came out with its findings.

“The opposition and the Left are prepared to disrupt the proceedings over these issues. The government wants to prepare itself for defence before convening the session,” said a Congress leader who did not want to be identified.

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