BJP & Cong Lower House Hostilities
Pact to let Parliament function & confine hostilities to soundbytes outside Need for further investigations by CBI
New Delhi: After Wednesday’s war cry against each other by the BJP and Congress over the AgustaWestland chopper deal, all that Parliament witnessed on Thursday weretwoskirmishes,barringwhich both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha functioned smoothly, triggering speculation among senior politicians that the archrivals had informally scripted a cease-fire deal.
Bothsidesalsoshowednohurryin pressing their respective pending notices, demanding structured discussions in the Houses on the chopper deal. Sources said the visible change of mood followed an unpublicised meeting between senior representatives of the government and Congress. A trucewasmade at a meeting on Wednesday in parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s office in Parliament,wherefinanceminister Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in the RS, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and his deputy Anand Sharma, apart from Naidu, were present. The meeting came after top leaders of both parties began fighting inside and outside Parliament, threatening to consume the rest of the session, besides hitting sensitive targets. The meeting had the endorsement of the top leadership of both parties.
Sources privy to the development said both sides felt the need to draw a ‘lakshman rekha’ following a realisation that the mudslinging was not exactly covering either party in glory. While seniors publicly asked onTuesdayandWednesdaypointed questions on the conduct of their rivals, there was one common demand: The need for further investigationsintotheissuebyCBItobook the culprits. This indicated that both sides agreed on continuing the CBI probe than indulge in internecine wars in Parliament and the need to concentrate on the pending legislative businesses. Both parties also recognise that there is neither any clinching evidence nor a clearcut verdict in Italy to rush to conclusions on the real culprit.
“Unless unwarranted provocations from certain quarters is not controlled, we are for the functioning of Parliament,” said a source privy to the development. The Congress also chose not to rake up the Uttarakhand issue, pointing to the lingering court proceedings.
Thursday’s ‘calm’ was along an agreed script. After Wednesday’s ‘build-up’, the only action on the Agusta issue werejustacouple of skirmishes, leaving the sound-bytes for leaders outside — BJP c h i e f Amit Shah’s attack of Gandhis, Congress’ counterattack and the defence minister’s rebuttal of his predecessor AK Antony. Even when Subramanian Swamy referred to the issue, not many BJP MPs backed him. The House then proceeded with the rest of the business, including passing the SC bill and completing a discussion on jewellers’demandwiththefinanceminister’s reply. Similarly, after the LS witnessed a smooth question hour and Zero Hour, Meenakshi Lekhi briefly raised the issue. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge protested and urged the Speaker not to allowhertoraisethematter.Soonafter the Congress protest, the Speaker adjourned the House for lunchbreakfollowingwhichdiscussionon demands for grants took place.