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A blow-by-blow account of what happened in Parliament

July 22, 2008 00:04 IST
Last Updated: July 22, 2008 00:14 IST


It was one of the most tantalising days in Parliament. Parties debated for and against the nuclear deal. MPs crossed swords, armed with allegations and statistics. As the nation was glued to the happenings, rediff.com's Prem Panicker gave its readers a blow-by-blow account of what happened. Here is the transcript:  

 Prem says, Good morning all -- and welcome to D-Day. In a short while, the Lok Sabha will convene in a special two-day session for the sole purpose of expressing continued trust, or lack thereof, in the UPA government headed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [Images]. We will bring you the blow by blow account of the debate.


Prem says, Anticipating questions on the vote -- the hows and the whys -- here is a link that gives you the lowdown: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/17trust.htm


Prem says, The special session will begin with 7 newly elected representatives taking oath of office, and the Speaker -- as of now, it is Somnath Chatterjee in the chair -- leading condolences on the death of five former members who passed away during the period since the last session. Following this, the PM will move a one line resolution seeking the Lok Sabha's trust, and the fun and games will begin.


Prem says, Meanwhile, the atmosphere is the Parliamentary version of the Bollywood red carpet: press photographers and television cameramen lined four-deep at the entrance to Parliament, as various luminaries from both sides of the aisle arrived and walked the press gauntlet and into the central hall of Parliament, all flashing confident smiles, some even producing a thumbs up for the cameras.


Ragoth asked, Why has not the country got a chance to discuss the deal in detail till the D-day? All we have had is name-calling and name dropping. In particular, was the PM right in keeping things so much under wraps till the last minute and then rushing to conclude the deal? The nation must know the answers to these questions.
Prem answers, What is the country supposed to discuss, anyway? The point that is being often ignored is that there is no deal yet to discuss. What has happened thus far, when shorn of verbiage, is that the United States Congress has passed a resolution permitting the president of the US to take steps to formalize such a deal. Following that, India has to create a safeguards agreement in tandem with the IAEA -- which has been stalled endlessly thanks to the Left saying you can't even say hello to the IAEA. After that, the Nuclear Suppliers Group has to ratify the agreement. THEN, what is called the 123 Agreement has to be drafted, which is what will spell out the actual contours of the nuclear deal. Shouldn't we have these things drafted properly before we can debate the pros and cons?


prasad asked, Hello Sir, What do you think about all this trust vote, friends becoming foes, foes becoming friends, and this all horse-trading? Is it not bringing our indian democracy to shame?
Prem answers, Yes, but since when have our elected representatives cared for that?


Ragoth asked, Prem, what's the political grapwine in Delhi saying? Will the govt manage to survive through abstentions/defections?
Prem answers, The grapevine is as confused as everyone else :-) Each day brings new details of people seeing the light, and joining this or that coalition. the best guess at this point in time is that the UPA can count on somewhere between 265-269 votes [and even here, it depends on whether everyone who has agreed to vote in favor will in fact do so]. The rest is speculation.


Sandeep asked, Isn't it the mockery of our democracy that the regional party have become a key player to cruise the Government. Can't we amend the law to make some reform in our constitution to chop such unscrupulous activity in Politics?
Prem answers, The best answer to that is, who will bell this cat? The people who have the power to change the existing laws, to amend the Constitution if need be, are the very ones who have the most to gain by keeping the status quo, no? Besides, I am not sure that regional parties are necessarily a bad thing -- the problem comes only when one-two MP "parties" get overdue importance at times like this, leading to the sort of horse trading that we've seen in recent days.


mahesh asked, can manmohansingh say that his deeds are right by simply making a majority of 1-2 votes that too by.............means.
Prem answers, Like it or not, that is how Parliament works. By the same token, if the government falls, the Left and others will say the nuclear deal is wrong for the country. Is that a correct interpretation?


prasad asked, I am not aginst the nuke deal completely................only some points should be re-considered.............like.........we cannot do nuclear tests.......if we sign the deal..............so, we lose our freedom for doing tests.....
Prem answers, Not actually true. Here's the thing -- every time we have tested, there have been sanctions, per existing international law. Sanctions means, in fact, that you cannot test, if you do there are penalties. Sanctions existed prior to 1994 too -- and yet, when the then NDA government and the country's scientists decided that we needed the inputs from a nuclear test, we tested. And faced the sanctions imposed by the international community. Arising from that, if in future [I seem to recall Mr Vajpayee saying at the time that the 1994 Test has yielded enough information to make testing unncessary for at least 20 years] we feel the need to test, we test. Of course there will be penalties, but how is that different from the past, when too there were penalties and we faced them? The thing is, we KNOW there will be penalties -- it is commonsense, once you decide to test, to put in place a safety net to make sure that the inevitable repercussions do not hurt us too badly. And in the meantime, if we become a de facto nuclear power, we access the very latest technologies, so that is a point in the plus column.


Prem says, Meanwhile, a note on procedure:


Prem says, First, there will be a one line motion brought by the PM, seeking the confidence of the House.


Prem says, Following that will be the debate, with the major parties fielding designated speakers, and even the one and two member parties getting their turn at bat.


Prem says, The debate will go on through tomorrow, till at some point the Speaker calls for the vote.


Prem says, In front of the chair of each MP there is a voting interface, with green -- for yes -- and red -- for vote buttons.


Prem says, When the vote is called, the MPs get 10 seconds to record his vote by pressing the appropriate button.


Prem says, The voting is electronic, obviously, and the greens and reds are tallied on the big board behind the Speaker's chair; the result will be announced almost immediately after.


Prem says, The Speaker will not vote unless there is a tie, in which case his vote becomes decisive. And if that in fact happens, it will be interesting to see which way Somnath Chatterjee goes. He has already refused to resign, as ordered by CPM general secretary Prakash Karat. Plus, he has made his feelings clear, that he is against the Left making common cause with the BJP on this or any other issue. So then, what does he hit -- the red, which means he votes with the BJP, or the green, which means he goes against his own party?


Prem says, Anyways, that is, briefly, the procedure as it will unfold. For now, we are waiting for the curtain to go up on the debate


Humblehard asked, UPA must crumble for making India so cheap and raising nothing but funds for muslims, Inflation, no growth et-all.
Prem answers, An interesting aspect of recent times is the shortness of public memory, no? Earlier this year when the sensex was soaring, when the stock markets were going through the roof, everyone was talking of India becoming the next superpower. Then oil prices jump over the moon, various other factors come into play, the market plunges, prices rise, and here we go, with gloom and doom. Two months later, if the markets go back up, we will suggest that this is the best of all possible governments. And so on, on an endless emotional roller coaster that seems to take no account of the long term. Strange.


prashant asked, Prem what will be the magic number if 10 MPs abstain?
Prem answers, The vote has to be a majority of all MPs "present and voting". So the math is simply this: number of votes actually cast, divided by two, plus one.


pv asked, BUNCH OF LOSERS ARE HERE TO WASTE TIME. PLEASE DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE FOR INDIA. REDIFF IS HERE JUST O MAKE MONEY BY FOOOLING YOU PEOPLE
Prem answers, Ah yes. And you want to help us make more money by saying the same thing over and over again, yes? Much obliged


sugumar asked, What would be the next move if this UPA government fails in trust vote?
Prem answers, f the UPA loses the trust vote, it will have to resign. At which point the President will ask it to continue as a caretaker government. In theory, its powers are unchanged but in practice, a government without the trust of the Lok Sabha does not make major, radical policy decisions. Think back to when Vajpayee lost the trust vote, for a sense of what happens next. Parliament is automatically dissolved when a government falls, and the Election Commission steps in to work out the schedule and modalities for a general election.


Humblehard asked, prem, I dont think its majority. It has to cross 271 mark.. But as we know taht speaker is in favor of deal, he will rule that maximum voted option will get the go-ahead..
Prem answers, The 272 mark is based on the number of MPs in Parliament. A vote is based on the number of MPs present and voting. So in the final analysis, I think the math I outlined will be how it happens.


prashant asked, Prem I think that BJP is not very much interested against the Vote of trust as well as will definitely support Mayawati. So I assume that BJP will ask few of its MPs to abstain to facillitate the victory of MMS. Only opposing because of being a opposition party??????'
Prem answers, I am not sure what the BJP is doing. It has a bit of a problem here: it is not only in favor of a nuclear deal, it is the government that actually started work on breaking the nuclear gridlock that India is in, by negotiating with the US. And since it hopes to form the next government, it will not want to say the deal is bad -- in fact, it hasn't, it keeps insisting that when and if it comes to power it will "renegotiate" the deal, not abandon it. So it won't want to openly say no nuclear deal ever, as the Left is saying. The plus for the BJP is, this is a vote on the government, and NOT on the deal, so the BJP can actually vote against the government without it being interpreted as the party and the coalition being against the deal.


Ragoth asked, Prem, you seem to indicate the 123 agreement has not already been drafted. Is that right? What I have read in the media is that the draft 123 agreement is already finalized. If none of this is final, what are we supporting or opposing and what is this thing about the 'historic deal'?
Prem answers, A "draft" is a work in progress, no? I mean, I have articles I am writing in draft form, the reason I am not sharing it with you is because it is still a draft, hence not complete. The media is reaching a bit when it says the 123 is done -- the 123 is pegged to the safeguards agreement, and it is illogical that the 123 can be finalized before the safeguards agreement with the IAEA has assumed its final form. What is possible is that various 123 drafts have been worked on, and been passed back and forth between the government and the US administration to ensure everyone is on the same page -- and the final dotting of i's and crossing of t's is pending the finalization, and ratification, of the safeguards agreement.


humblehard1 asked, prem long term? No, U can see politics of UPA here.. I strongly suspect that UPA has played a back dorr tactics to ensure that people's attention moves out of Infaltion. While I am in South korea and seeing how Korean economy is faring, it got a jolt ofr about 3 weeks, while in India, jolt is still continuing.. It shows the incompetency of our PM- I mean rubberstamp PM.... There is lot of usa politics behind crude oil rise.. ask any commodity stockist, u will get same response. All are being done indirectly by usa only
Prem answers, Tell me this: how can people's attention be "distracted" from inflation -- when we are brought face to face with it each time we go to the sabziwallah? That line sounds good for some politician to say -- ah, it is a smokescreen, it is a distraction. But damned if I can see how it can distract me from an issue I confront every day. Secondly, it is not the UPA [I need to make clear that I support neither party, first] that seems to be distracting people -- it is the Left that raised this whole storm [led interestingly by a bloke who has never stood for election in his life, but presumes to dictate how the country should be run].


prasad asked, Chetan, if congress dont get trust vote, President has no right to go forward with the deal........am I right Prem?
Prem answers, The President doesn't sign bilateral or multilateral agreements on his own -- okay, her own -- initiative, Prasad. So, no, if the UPA falls Ms Patil can't go ahead and sign deals, nuclear or otherwise.


Prem says, ALRIGHT, FOLKS, HERE WE GO, LIVE TO THE LOK SABHA WHERE THE NATIONAL ANTHEM IS JUST BEING PLAYED.


Prem says, here on, I'll try and bring you the views of the various speakers as they take the floor, so you have a sense of who is saying what. I suspect that since this deal is not going to be over today -- whoever else comes into power, the issue will continue -- it is interesting to see what the various opinions are. But while doing that, I won't be able to answer questions, unless there is a break


Prem says, Sri Indrakaran Reddy is the first of the new MPs who will step forward and take the oath of office -- which is currently doing in Telugu


Prem says, next up, K Chandrasekhar Rao of Karimnagar constituency, in Andhra Pradesh, to take oath


Prem says, Somnath Chatterjee has already said "silence" and "please" a dozen times, in his bid to get the august MPs to shut up.


Prem says, B Vinod Kumar of Anandgonda, AP, up next to take oath


Prem says, ERappalli Dayakar Rao of Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, to take the oath next


Prem says, Meanwhile, Mr Priyaranjan Das Munshi is seen in his seat -- just days after a heart attack. That he has bee brought in is indicator enough of how important the various parties think the this session is


Prem says, Anurag Singh Thakur of Himachal Pradesh about to take his oath


Prem says, And Mr Speaker has to remind one of the guys who has just taken oath not to stand up and shout slogans. "Please please, you are a new member, sloganeering is not permitted", he says, cutting short the zindabads


Prem says, Ananth Paranjpe of Thane, Maharashtra, stepping up to take the oath now -- in Marathi.


Prem says, Interesting member up next -- Agatha Sangma. That name originating because dad Purno likes Agatha Christie so much, he named one daughter Agatha, and the other Christie. The Speaker points out that we now have 38 members below the age of 35. And now moves on to name, and briefly describe the careers of, five MPs who died since the last session.


Prem says, We talk of shameful acts. To me, this is shameful: that Somnath Chatterjee had to break off and say, "At least when I am reading an obituary, please maintain silence, we are trying to show respect to our own colleagues who have passed away!"


Prem says, Meanwhile, many have been talking of how MPs in jail for crimes up to and including murder are entitled to vote. Here is something I just dug up -- a FAQ put up by the election commission: http://www.indian-elections.com/electionfaqs/contesting-for-elections.html


Prem says, Relevant questions and answers: Q 5. If some body is convicted for some offence and he is sentenced to imprisonment for 3 years, can he contest elections? Ans. No As per Section 8 (3) of R. P. Act, 1951, if a person is convicted of any offence and sentenced to an imprisonment of 2 years or more, this will be disqualification to contest elections. Q 6. Supposing he is on bail, pending disposal of his appeal, can he contest the election? Ans. No Even if is a person is on bail, after the conviction and his appeal is pending for disposal, he is disqualified from contesting an election as per the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India. Q 7. Can a person confined in jail vote in an election? Ans. No According to section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, no person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police.


Prem says, See that last bit: No person can vote in an election if he is confined in prison. Apparently if you are in jail, you can't vote to pick an MP -- but an MP convicted of murder can then come along and vote in Parliament!Talk of idiocies.


Prem says, Having read out the obits of the five MPs, Mr Chatterjee brings the attention of the House to the recent demise of Field Marshall Sam Maneckshaw. Interesting, and certainly unusual, that a person who is not a member of the House is being condoled by the Lok Sabha.


Prem says, The Speaker now takes note of the recent terrorist attack on the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan, mourning the victims and expressing its gratitude for their services. And that done, he calls for all to stand for a few moments as a mark of respect. Everyone does, head bowed. And now the Speaker has asked the members to take their seats for the proceedings to continue


Prem says, Some MPs now have various papers to place before the House, on a variety of issues. Incidentally, Karunakar Reddy, MP of Bellary, has resigned. The Speaker says this debate today could go on till 10 tonight, if the "sense of the House is there".


Prem says, The Speaker talks of the importance of the debate about to begin, and points out that the nation is watching, and asks that some decorum during the debate. "Please have the discussion in a manner that adds to the dignity of the House. The nation is looking at us, please cooperate."


Prem says, The Prime Minister now rises: "Mr Speaker sir, with your permission I beg to move that the House has trust in my government."


Prem says, He will now make a speech, having moved his motion. He gives credit for the 4-year tenure of the UPA government to the leaders of the constituent parties, and to Sonia Gandhi [Images], Jyoti Basu and others who he says were architects of the formation of the government.


Prem says, He expresses his regret that such a session was necessary at a time when the government's attention is on containing inflation and on other people-friendly policies. He says the exercise could have been avoided; says he has repeatedly assured all parties including the Left that if the government was allowed to complete its formalities with the IAEA and the NSG, he would come to Parliament and seek approval before operationalizing the deal. "This was my solemn assurance", he says, and points out that the trust vote has been necessitated by the Left pull out before he could finsih his negotiations and fulfill his promise.


Prem says, "I seek the support of the House on the basis of our entire record in government."


Prem says, He assures the House and the people of India that every decision taken by the government ahs been in fullest confidence that it has been in the national interest.


Prem says, He welcomes the session as an opportunity for the House to review the UPA government's record in office thus far.


Prem says, And now the PM segues into a quote from Guru Govind Singh, about the virtue of selfless service and courage of conviction. I don't know, off the top of my head, if he has ever spoken in Gurumukhi before


Prem says, And now Mr L K Advani rises, as Leader of the Opposition, and says he opposes the motion.


Prem says, Even though he said this is an opportunity to consider the totality of the government over the last four years, Advani says that is not the key to this debate.


Prem says, Let me at the outset say the focus should be why this debate has become necessary.


Prem says, The issue of the nuclear deal was going on for two years, and it was in August 2007 that for the first time I got the impression that the government has made up its mind to go ahead. He talks of a correspondent of a Calcutta daily who was asked to front page a story that the government has taken a decision, that it was non negotiable, and if the Left does not approve they can do what they want, Advani says


Prem says, He says that this has been going on from last August, and that it has given him the impression there is nothing else on the government's mind. "So when the PM just said this debate was unnecessary when the government had to focus on inflation and other issues, I am surprised."


Prem says, Advani says that the BJP differs with the Left on many issues, but not on this. He says four years and two months after the government was formed, it now faces the likelihood of being voted out. Cue much noise, the treasury benches going into overdrive in offense. The Speaker goes please please, and ADvani says, I only said the "possibility", and you cant take offense with that


Prem says, More interruptions, and the Speaker tries to restore peace. "I appeal to all sections, when the Leader of the Opposition is speaking, please do not interrupt."


Prem says, All that has happened is more people have gotten up and started yelling at the top of their voices -- the treasury and opposition both


Prem says, "If you do not devleop the art of listening, how can you reply?" asks Chatterjee


Prem says, Advani resumes, and says this situation ahs not been brought about by the Opposition, or even by the "Left, with whom I disagree."


Prem says, The reason is that this session has been invited by the government. "Mr Prime Minister, you started it by giving that interview to the Telegraph. So what is the point of now saying this distraction is keeping the government from concentrating on inflation and other issues."


Prem says, He points out that the government first said, the Parliament will be consulted BEFORE going to the IAEA and the NSG. But now you are saying you had assured that AFTER those two steps, you will come to the House to brief us.


Prem says, He now points out that the MPs were not allowed to see the draft IAEA resolution. "It is classified", the government says. "But the countries of the NSG, and people around the world, can see it, but not our own Indian MPs."


Prem says, "Don't blame anyone else for this session. If anyone is to blame, it is your government and you personally, for going ahead with something without seeking approval of Parliament."


Prem says, Advani says we would like tod efeat the government on the floor of the house. "But I draw a distinction between defeating and destabilizing. To destabilize is not in our nature. You may do it with Chandra Shekar, with Deve Gowda, and with Mr Vajpayee," Advani said, cutting to Hindi to repeat his point about defeat versus destabilize.


Prem says, Advani now gets combative, as the Treasury benches try to shout him down, and he says, "If I am not allowed to talk, none of your members [Pointing at the Treasury benches] will be allowed to speak, not a single one." Right, gloves off. And the Speaker by now has hit the 200 mark on 'Please, please...' and he is just beginning.


Prem says, Indeed, Mr Speaker, I can claim to have seen all the Prime Ministers since Independence, and almost all the governments since 1950. First, as a journalist from the press gallery, then as a political activist, and now for four decades as an MP. I have seen short lived governments, instable governments, but I have never seen any government paralyzed for such a long time. nothing except the deal, nothing except continuous meetings between the government and the Left."


Prem says, If the government says it is in the national interest -- and that is what is said repeatedly -- then why doesn't the CMP mention it, why didn't the Congress party's manifesto mention it?


Prem says, "I get the feeling that the deal is not between two sovereign nations, but between two individuals, one of whom is the Prime Minister of this country."


Prem says, he says if the deal is studied, it makes India a junior partner of the US. "I don't want the world to become a unipolar world. I want a multipolar world, and I want India to become a principle pole of such a world," says Advani, saying that the deal as it stands will not fulfill this objective.


Prem says, He points to the recent detailed writings of his colleague in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Shourie, and says he wont go into more detail. The question, he says, is to decide whether the government's actions have been right, and to vote on that basis. In other words, the argument is, we are not debating the deal itself, but more, we are debating whether the government has taken the right political steps on the issue, such as having taken the Parliament into confidence.


Prem says, he points out that India had decided way back in 1954 to become a nuclear weapons state.


Prem says, when we formed the NDA government, Advani says, we wanted to go nuclear, but some of our allies did not. We discussed the issues with them, got their agreement, and we included it in our CMP as the national agenda.


Prem says, Further, he said, Vajpayee within two months of taking charge conducted the nuclear tests, as mentioned in our agenda, our CMP. "MY stress is, if the coalition dharma had been followed, this motion would not have been necessary." His point is, if you had taken the Left into confidence as the NDA did its allies, there would have been no need for this debate. "Please do not call it a distraction. it is part of the Parliamentary democracy that every party has to be able to prove its majority." It is an irony, he said, that for the first time a PM will not be able to vote for his own motion -- a little dig at the fact that Dr Singh is not a member of the Lok Sabha.


Prem says, "Mr Prime Minister, you should not have gone stealthily to the IAEA." He said newspapers have published that whether the UPA sinks or swims, the deal is done. "I don't know if this is true, that the Indian Parliament has now become irrelevant."


Prem says, Advani's reference is to a recent page one story in the Telegraph that the deal is on auto pilot, and will go through. "MY feeling is that this is not true, my feeling is that the Congress of America will consider whether the government is in power."


Prem says, Advani says we are not against a strategic relationship with America, Russia [Images], Japan [Images], whoever. "We differ from the Left in this regard," Advani says.


Prem says, While Advani talks, here is a story: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21aziz.htm


Prem says, The US is quoted in that story as saying the US will sign a deal even if teh government is in minority.


Prem says, Advani meanwhile points at the Hyde ACt. The government says it does not apply, the US says it does apply, points out Advani.


Prem says, He points out that the Hyde ACt has already been discussed in Parliament, and the majority then did not agree, and had even walked out.


Prem says, Advani points out that we in India do not have a requirement tht international agreeements should be okayed by Parliament


Prem says, However, he argues, wehn the international agreement in question impacts of national sovereignity and integrity and security, then Parliament needs to be taken into confidence


Prem says, He says that it is not on to justify India signing away its testing rights by saying Vajpayeeji had voluntarily proclaimed a moratorium on testing.


Prem says, He pionts out that neitehr Nehru nor Shastri were in favor of going nuclear -- but neither of them were ready to sign the NPT. His argument is, irrespective what you feel about nuclear weapons, you cannot sign away the rights to test, as the Hyde Act requires of India.


Prem says, Ah, here comes the big pitch: "We are not saying we will scrap the nuclear deal. We are saying we will renegotiate it as a treaty between equals."


Prem says, "Mr Prime Minister, two days after your 2005 joint statement with President Bush, a journalist asked you if you saw any opposition from your allies and from the opposition? Dr Singh said, "Well, the Parliament in our country is powerful. It goes without saying that we can move forward only on the basis of a broad national consensus." This is what he said.So tell me, is there a consensus? Even if the government wins the vote tomorrow, even that does not mean there is consensus. I for one don't mind if the UPA wins the vote tomorrow, because after two or three months what will happen, I know." Advani's line here is that with a ragtag coaltion now in place, the pulls and pressures inherent will make every step hazardous from here on, and the government will constantly be scrambling to survive.


Prem says, Advani now says that the PM has made many assurances. And that he had repeatedly asked for a joint parliamentary committee to examine the issues of the deal and get a sense of consensus, but the government consistently refused to do it.


Prem says, Meanwhile, as Advani speaks, here is another story: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21upavote9.htm


Prem says, The gist of that story is: The Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been working over time in mustering up the numbers to defeat the UPA, will fall short by another lawmaker, with the resignation of its MP from Bellary, Karunakar Reddy.


Prem says, Advani, meanwhile, is now quoting a spokesperson of the US administration, who said that by signing the deal, India will become member of the non proliferation regime.


Prem says, Outside Parliament, Mayawati is giving a press conference. She says, if India is to sign the nuclear deal, the US should support India's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.


Prem says, Dr Singh interrupts to point out that Mr Advani is not supposed to quote from the proceedings of the other House. He sits, and Mr Advani and Dr Singh are now debating that particular point of issue, arising out of Advani's quoting something the PM supposedly said in the Rajya Sabha. Dr Singh says, procedurally you cannot quote, and now you are quoting in part, but not the whole, of the PM's statements.


Prem says, Advani now points out that currently nuclear energy provides 3 per cent, if the deal is implemented that could go to 6 per cent, so there is no point in the government saying the deal gives energy security to the country, and the nation will be plunged into darkness if the deal is cancelled. "We don't agree with this," says Advani.


Prem says, Advani says, you wanted a debate on your performance. Okay, your CMP says we will provide electricity for all in five years -- and asks, there are 7.8 crore unelectrified households today, so where is this promise, and other promises on roads, on water, on basic amenities that you had spelt out in the CMP


Prem says, Advani points out that the golden quadrilateral highway project was an NDA initiative, and that the UPA has done nothing in the infrastructure to match that.


Prem says, Now Advani goes to the question of rising prices =-- and Laloo Prasad is on his feet objecting about something or other, while Advani smiles and waits for the noise tos ubside


Prem says, Back to Mayawati, who seems to be taking her putative PM-ship quite seriously: Elections are near, let the next Government take a final call on the nuclear deal, she says, in her press conference.


Prem says, Back to Advani, who is now talking of the plight of farmers, and of some rallies he has attended in the recent past. Suicides are still going on, he says. I was Advani, I wouldn't have gone down that route, frankly. The catch is, in the 60 days of the BJP government in Karnataka, there have been another 76 suicides there. And here is a story you should read, to realize the futility of the common man: http://tehelka.com/story_main39.asp?filename=Ne190708gaping_at.asp&wwparam=1216319486


Prem says, Due respect to the Leader of the Opposition, his current segue into the basis of Partition and such is an example of a good orator going on one beat too long.


Prem says, Now he is talking of India being named a secular state, and asking why secularism means that you should be against Hindus all the time. Cue confusion -- a few dozen from treasury benches yelling objections, and Somnath saying that is his party's view, so why are you objecting?


Prem says, And Advani's own colleagues protesting the protestors. Kya karoon main, asks Somanth. "Gala dabaoon uska?"


Prem says, Advani is now talking of the series of blasts across the country, and terrorist attacks across the country during these four years. "It is a long and bloody trail," he says


Prem says, More interruptions. "You can't have a running commentary when the Leader of the Opposition is speaking," says an angry Somnath. I hope he is speaking to the Parliamentarians, and not telling me to shut up. Anyway.


Prem says, He says the UPA has been playing to the Muslim vote bank by soft pedalling on taking action against terrorists. He now refers to the feet dragging on the Afzal issue. The Supreme Court says the man who masterminded the attack on Parliament should be put to death, but the government continues to drag its feet, says Advani, arguing that this is not genuine secularism. And now he brings in Amarnath, the Sethu Samudram, and such issues. What is now happening is that the Leader of the Opposition, having sketched his opposition to the motion, is now speaking with the view to the next election.


Prem says, He refers to the recent confusion where land was given for use of the Amarnath pilgrims, there was a hue and cry, and the land was withdrawn. "I have no doubt the hand of the ISI was behind those protests. And the UPA government succumbed," he says.


Prem says, Now Advani moves to the Sethu Samudram project.


Prem says, There is considerable noise now, ADvani manages a lone and up go the protestors, while Somnath Chatterji says please, please, with all the effectiveness of an umbrella in a typhoon.


Prem says, One of the problems for the Opposition benches is that they don't want the interruptions by the Treasury MPs to be recorded. Somnath has been saying repeatedly that outside of Adfvani's words, nothing is being recorded, and this is the 20th time he has said that, but we are still in fury mode. Everyone talking, all at once, Somnath also talking, now on his feet in anger, but no one seems to be paying much heed.


Prem says, I am grateful to the honorable MPs. I can take a quick loo break. :-) Be right back


Prem says, Okay, been there, done that, and the confusion continues.


Prem says, More Mayawati: She says the nuclear deal will hamper the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.


Prem says, TRR Balu wants to respond to Advani. He doesnt seem to listen to the Speaker, who has in the last few minutes said a dozen times that he will allow Balu to respond when the time comes. Balu, though, wants his say right now. Clearly, the red rag for him is Advani's reference to the Sethusamudram project


Prem says, Advani is sitting in his seat, smiling at the confusion. The PM in his seat, his face as usual immobile. 'Kya ho raha hai!" the country is looking at us, says Somnath. Yeah, right, like anyone cares.


Prem says, One of the reasons for the protest is seemingly because some aspects of Sethu Samudram is sub judice and hence should not be brought up. that at least is Balu's argument.


Prem says, "You may have good reason to be excited, but do it at the proper time," says Somnath to the noise makers.


Prem says, ADvani again: He points out that his point is there are many places in this country of pilgrimage. When the late Benazir Bhutto [Images] wanted to go to Ajmer Dargah, he says, he arranged it. But what is happening at Amarnath is shocking!


Prem says, Advani: One last point. The inquest of this government will not be complete unless I mention that various democratic institutions are being misused for questionable politics


Prem says, Ah, now he brings in the CBI. Quattrochi escaping from the country, and take away 20 crore from a foreign bank. I recall that in 1999, there was as little difference between thet wo contesting parties, when Vajpayee sought a vote of confidence. We knew the result will be very narrow. yet, I don't recall a single allegation of this kind being recorded against the NDA government


Prem says, "The CBI has been used" says Advani, against political opposition. He doesnt mention Mayawati, but the opposition's latest lodestar and her problems have been in the headlines this past two weeks, so this is a bit of a bone thrown in that direction


Prem says, Advani wants someone in government to speak of what has been done for farmers in the last foiur weeks


Prem says, He says the happenings of the past fortnight has sullied the image of the Indian government.


Prem says, He characterizes these incidents as an attempt to convert a minority government into a majority. All of this, he says, is to ensure the government survives for another 100 days. To what point? What would have happened if the government had said, fine, let's go to the people?


Prem says, Judging from the sheaf of papers in his hand, Advani has a lot more to say, but I notice him skpping past a couple of pages. "I know today or tomorrow we have to go to the people, and the people's verdict will prevail," she Adfvani and finally concludes.


Prem says, Next up, Mohammad Saleem of the CPM.


Prem says, He wants to know what the PM has come to the House for -- to get support? From who? Not from the party that has extended support for the last four years. He says the question is not about betrayal of trust, but of trustworthiness, or betrayal. He says the PM and Sonia Gandhi have turned their backs on the party that put them in power, without expecting anything in response.


Prem says, Saleem is talking in Hindi. He says, the Left is not seeking any certificate of appreciation. He says the Left had given support not expecting a certificate of patriotism


Prem says, In the CMP, there was no mention of the nuclear deal, of a strategic parternship, of economic and military partnership with the US.


Prem says, "We gave you a credit card, but with every credit card there is a withdrawal limit, and you are exceeding that limit."


Prem says, We are not angry, there is nothing to be angry about, says Saleem, lapsing into shayiri.


Prem says, The CPM MP points out that his party is not in favor of the BJP/RSS. Towards that end, he says,the Left decided to support the UPA government, but then there is the understanding that they govern per their own CMP.


Prem says, Okay, he's made that point clear, but for now shows no sign of moving on. He now points out that disinvestment is not part of the CMP. Um? More interruptions, and Somnath says if this keeps up he wont bother, let there be a free for all. What, it isn't that now?!


Prem says, Behind Manmohan Singh, I notice Pranab Mukherjee, who was sitting next to the PM, going to the second and third Tresury benches, clearly coordinating the upcoming Treasury speakers, scribbling points. Saleem meanwhile continues, now talking of the Left dream of an independent spot in the comity of nations.


Prem says, Saleem quotes from the agreement on which the UPA was formed: The UPA supported by the Left will have six basic policies. Which include economic growth, social harmony, generates employment, enhance welfare of farmers [Saleem should skate past this -- someone is going to bring up Nandigram [Images]], empowerment of women... and so on. Point clear, this is why Left gave support, not for nuclear deal and close relations with the US.


Prem says, Saleem continues to read from the CMP. Now he is into quip mode: government is worried about 123 agreement, inflation meanwhile is 12 per cent and will be 12.3 per cent soon.


Prem says, Now he shifts to English: Government was formed for CMP, PM is taking it to an uncommon program. We agreed to a minimum program the PM has tken it to a maximum program. The Left is not bound by that, the Parliament is not bound by that, the country is not bound by that, he says.


Prem says, Saleem making the same point as Advani -- that when the nuclear deal was debated in Parliament in 2007 most members walked oiut, indicating the absence of consensus.


Prem says, He says, why the hurry on this one deal? No rush was shown on other important issues -- like doing something about the Sachar Committee, for instance.


Prem says, Again, a reprise of Advani: The point that the government had promised to seek consensus before proceeding with the deal. In his case, his point is that the outcome of IAEA negotiations was to be made available to the Left-UPA coordination committee. He points out that a meeting was scheduled for August 10. And it was while the PM was in Japan that we are told that the deal is being taken forward.


Prem says, PM still impassive, but Pranab Mukherjee writing away, seemingly faster than I can type. He will be the one who responds on the foreign policy sections of this debate.


Prem says, It's been five minutes and counting and no one bothering to interrupt Saleem. Not sure what that means -- what he is saying is unexceptionable, or no one is paying much attention, saving their energies for the big guns on either side?


Prem says, Somnath intervenes to say there are 56 speakers listed, and if one takes so much time this thing will never end. What I find surprising is that they didn't get this part sorted out before the debate began -- X speakers, in this order, so many minutes per head. Saleem listens to the Speaker, says haan, haan, but I have something more to say, and now goes back to the Hyde Act and related debates in the US Congress.


Prem says, The longer Saleem speaks on about the Left-UPA committee, the more I suspect that the fireworks will begin when Lalu Prasad gets up to speak. Word is the Congress has deputed him to take on the Left on the workings of that committee -- and the choice of speaker seems to indicate that it is going to be combative. There is some talk that the Left played games within that committee -- how Lalu speaks, what he chooses to talk about and how he phrases it will be worth watching. Meanwhile, Saleem says the Left didn't give the UPA a blank check, it didn't say the support was irrespective of whether prices rise, whether inflation goes through the roof. Now he says the Supreme Court itself asks for action against Modi's government in Gujarat, and the UPA blocked it. He talks of the Srikrishna Commission report, not acted on. [MY OWN LITTLE ASIDE: was all of this in the CMP?]


Prem says, Anyway, Saleem's point, in one sentence is: the Left gave this gov ernment support on certain conditions and certain programs, and once the UPA moved away from those programs, all bets were off.


Prem says, It is now, by my watch, four and a half minutes since Somnath asked Saleem to shut up, and he goes on. So now Somnath says, I have no problem, you take up the whole time, you can keep on talking for the duration, even if no one else gets to talk


Prem says, The interesting thing is, Somnath, who pionts out the speech is now 26 minutes and counting, is CPM and so is Saleem. Saleem continues...


Prem says, Back the speaker goes, about the government's secrecy.


Prem says, Now he says he has something to say about the IAEA, and its own energy predictions. He says that in 2015, the world's total of atomic energy will be somewhere around 9 per cent. This, he points out, includes energy produced across the world, even by the big powers. Now he flourishes an International Energy Outlook report that he says has detailed analysis that indicates that nuclear energy won't increase into double digits. And now he recites a laundry list of reports, all supposedly underlining his point that coal, not nuclear, will drive energy production around the world.


Prem says, 31 minutes. And counting.


Prem says, Back he goes to the CMP. It is not said there that we will have a close relationship with the US, he says, for the 12th time.


Prem says, Spomnath says the CPM's time is almost over! And Saleem is not the only CPM speaker, so it is going to be fireworks for sure later today.


Prem says, Meanwhile, Saleem is talking of how Indian diplomacy has been outsourced to the US. And getting increasingly worked up about this whole thing.


Prem says, Meanwhile, the camera pans across the House, and um, after the first three, four benches, suddenly plenty of empty seats. Apparently a large bnumber of MPs are off doing their own thing. Saleem now hitting a high, America, foreign policy, government, betrayal, all of it in one big, loud, arm-waving peroration. He calls for a road that leads neither to Russia or America, but leads the country to the top. And with that, he sits down


Prem says, Next, External Affairs Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee.


Prem says, A bit of byplay, and Somnath says no lunch hour today. Pranab meanwhile plays elder statesman, says let us all understand that our views may not be acceptable to otehrs, but let's bring some decorum to this proceeding.


Prem says, He says he has reservations about describing the nuclear cooperation agreement as a "deal" -- it is actually "nuclear cooperation", and not just with the US but with the international community


Prem says, It is a point the UPA has made often in recent times -- that the Left is going on and on about the US, forgetting that India is actually looking to trade with everyone.


Prem says, He takes up Advani's point that this government has been reduced to a minority. He points out that on July 4 was 234. He then reads out the rest of the break down, and says with the constitutents and with the withdrawal of support of the left, the number is 237. [He misspoke and said 337]. He said the same day, the SP presented the support of 39 MPs. That brings the tally to 273. The effectiv e voting strength is 541, he says. So clearly the government is in a majority, and Advani wrong in saying the minority government is trying to convert itself into a majority.


Prem says, That is his first point. Okay, one thing clear, Pranab is taking on Advani. he speaks of 1989 created when Congress was the largest national party. The second was the VP Singh and his coalition, which was supported by the BJP. He is speaking of how Congress sat in Opposition --and how the BJP then pulled the rug on the VP Singh government. And, says Pranab, now you talk of defeat not destabilization, and you sa that is not in our nature.


Prem says, He now says Advani mentioned Nehru and Morarji Desai were opposed to nuclear but did not sign the NPT. But Nehru died in 1964, and the NPT only came in 1974, so the question of Nehru not signing it did not even arise.


Prem says, Now Pranab talking of how successive Congress leaders have repeatedly mentioned, including Rajiv Gandhi at the UN, that India will keep its nuclear options open, it has never said it will close the door on that.


Prem says, Now Pranab moves to another Advani point: That BJP will go into renegotiation. I wont go into that, because we will know when it happens.


Prem says, I suspect Pranab is going to talk of the deal BJP negotiated when it was in government


Prem says, He quotes from Vajpayee speaking athe UN General Assembly, and a signed statement by then external minister Jaswant Singh


Prem says, 


Prem says, He says both statements say that India under the BJP was going to sign the CTBT. Which the Congress continues to refuse to do.


Prem says, He is now quoting Strobe Talbot. From his book, where Talbot repeatedly mentions the discussions between the BJP government and the US government. His point is, this is how you negotiated when you were in power.


Prem says, He refutes Advani's criticism that the government has been secretive about the deal, and says on the basis of 40 years in Parliament he cannot recall a single foreign policy issue that has been debated so extensively and so frantically. He is now busy detailing the dates of the various discussions, from the Joint Statement of August 2005 onwards.


Prem says, He talks of how the PM was asked 9 points by the Left, in the Rajya Sabha, how the PM responded, and the Left member said he was full satisfied.


Prem says, He says the text of the 123 Agreement and IAEA safeguards abvreement are avaialble on the web, and that the Congress can be held to the words of those documents, but not to the interpretations of the individual members.


Prem says, Mukherjee now talking of his government's progress: 9 per cent growth rate. Education has had a 4.5 per cent growth for the first time in many years. An emotional Pranab: I am a small leader, Advani is a big man, he is going to be the prospective prime minister, please do not compare us.


Prem says, Pranab now talking of the Left-U{A committee, and how it was the result of the initative of the UPA chairperson and the PM.


Prem says, The mandate of the committee he says was to brief and discuss with the Left the impact of the 123 Agreement,. and the civil/military nuclear policy of the government. We said that the findings of the committee would be finalized and placed before the UPA. he points out, it was not a government committee, it was a political committee, and it was meant to find out what the Left had to say, coalesce the finidings which would then be placed before the UPA.


Prem says, His point is, the committee's draft statement itself did not ever say that the UPA will approach the IAEA on that basis, the committee findings was to be played before the UPA.


Prem says, And,he points out, he was the one who drafted the committee's founding statement with one Left leader.


Prem says, He now lists all the questions the Left asked at the first meeting: will IAEA recognize your separation plan, etc. That meeting wanted answers, he says. After it, he said, it was decided that we would go to the IAEA, to find out the answers. the IAEA draft -- it is a draft, he says, not an agreement -- should then cover these questions.


Prem says, he said the UP"A committed that it would explain to the Left, in the committee, the substantiative outcomes of the government's meetings with the IAEA, and with various international governments


Prem says, He is now countering the question posed by ADvani and Saleem, that everything was kept secret. He points out that the secrecy clauses were on the basis of the IAEA's own classification. That only ministers were part of the Left-UPA committee, because ministers would be privy to such documents and could answer more t the point. He says the IAEA agreement was placed in the public record the minute it was declassified by the IAEA.


Prem says, Now Saleem asking about the classification of the documents. Confusion prevails.


Prem says, Pranab hits a note that the Left can't quarrel with: the Indo-Soviet friendship treaty was classified for 25 years, and no one in Parliament knew what it contained, he points out.


Prem says, He makes another point that I have wondered about: hwo does the Left, led by a man who has never sought election, demand access to documents that are by law only accessible by elected MPs who have taken the oath of office?


Prem says, Pranab now taking Advani's 'Why" Why are you going for this deal?


Prem says, The need for power is common knowledge. Today, he says, our generation is 1.44 mill MW. Projections, for the future, is that in 2030, energy deficit will be 4.12 lakh -- deficit, he points out.


Prem says, If you take thermal, hydel, coal, petrol, non conventional, with all of this, we have that deficit. So if we start nuclear work today -- he is now citing stats and math -- and says the deficit will be reduced to just 7000 MW. From 4.5 lakh MW.


Prem says, 1948, France [Images], and De Gualle is where Pranab goes now, and how France then decided that it needs civil nuclear energy


Prem says, In the aftermath of WWII, strong resistance, he points out. France went ahead, despite the anti nuclear lobby. They began building the nuclear energy program in 1974. Today, in 34 years, 79 per cent of France's energy comes from nuclear power.


Prem says, 


Prem says, He points out that some countries are "floating on oil". We have fewer primary energy cources. If India depends on coal, in 2050, India will need to import so much coal that it will b e greater than the capacity of all existing ports in India.


Prem says, He then cuts to the point of what will happen if coal is used to power India's growing energy needs, and the environmental impact.


Prem says, He says that the PM has, by going flat out on the nuclear energy program, taken a visionary step.


Prem says, he points out that the greatest of India's scientists,fro Homi Bhaba to Raja Ramanna, were unanimous on the need for nuclear energy.


Prem says, He says that prior to the agreement, India was in quarantine, and says the IAEA agreement and the NSG approval are like the passport and visa India needs to decide what our destination should be.


Prem says, He says the Parliament's jugem ent will be accepted with respect and humility. If the vote fails, the government falls, but so what, in six months it has to go to the people anyway. He says, here is a pointed question: Do you think this is the issue on which the government should be brought down, a government that has mantained a nine per cent growth rate for four years? Saleem back on his feet objecting. Pranab tells him, till the other day you too were quoting this same figure.


Prem says, Pranab seems to have set the cat among the Left pigeons with that bit about the growth rate. Saleem on his feet, angrily demanding the right to intervene. Somnath finally gavels him down. He says he told Advani that it is good to have ambitions to be PM, but that he advised him to wait for the next election to come, and not to join forces with opportunists to bring down this government.


Prem says, Mayhem. Saleem being blasted by Somnath, others yelling, Pranab continues above the uproar, and his point remains this, asking ADfvani and the BJP not to let ambition get the better of them. And with that he sits down.


Prem says, Thank heavens, the debate has been adjounred to 3 pm. Which gives me a breather to go grab a bite to eat. See you guys at 3.


Prem says, 


Prem says, For me, the star of the morning was clearly Pranab Mukherjee. His entire speech was point by point rebuttal of facts and figures -- and then, having got the pump properly primed, he slipped one barb into the side of the left, another into Advani and the BJP, and as the uproar built, said thank you Mr Speaker, and sat down -- on a high. Nice political theater. One thing I would love expert opinion on is his point on France and its nuclear program: if those numbers are true, and so are the numbers of India's energy requirements, they are central to this particular debate. Let's see what the afternoon brings


Prem says, Before the debate begins again, a couple of general items of interest: Sometime in the next two days, the Speaker will have to clash with the Left. Mohammad Saleem took by my watch 36 minutes for his speech. The way this works is that each party, depending on its strength, is allotted X amount of time. It can field one speaker or one 100, but the total time taken has to remain within that allotted amount. Where the Left is concerned, it is not after all just the CPM, and Saleem is not the sole CPM speaker. So there is going to be a problem at some point when the next CPM speaker, and those from the CPI and other constituents, take their turn. And it is Somnath Chatterjee who has to enforce those rules. While on that, a story of some related interest: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/20upavote12.htm


Prem says, My rating of the speakers thus far:


Prem says, The PM: Called for the vote, as he had to, but otherwise, largely tame. Just said judge us on performance, and left it at that.


Prem says, LK Advani: Started off in style, but then made a few key errors. In debate it is fatal to give the opponent free points, and Advani did that when he spoke of Nehru not signing a treaty that was not even in existence at the time of his death. Again, when he went onto the moral high ground with that bit about defeat versus destablize, he opened himself up for the inevitable reminder that the BJP had jerked the rug out from under the VP Singh government, clearly a destabilizing exercise. I also reckoned he needed to lose points for making the last part of his speech a party political, instead of hammering the nails in hard. 6, maybe 7 on 10 would be about right.


Prem says, The CPM's Mohammad Saleem: 4/10, and that is being extraordinarily generous. Spoke at tedious length, but rambled all over the place. When it was pointed out that his clock had run out, he spoke for another 18 minutes -- and for every minute of that time, repeated what he had said before. To bore the audience to tears is a cardinal sin in debates, and Saleem accomplished just that with his endless peroration.


Prem says, Pranab Mukherjee: I'd give him 8/10. He was quick to spot the Advani errors and nail them to maximum impact. He hit on the central point of this debate: the opposition's argument that nuclear will not solve India's energy needs -- and answered with facts and figures that make a strong case. And in the manner of a skilled debater, he rounded off on a high, riling both the Left and the BJP with neat thrusts. If he loses points, it is for the three or four moments when, in the midst of making key points, he fumbled around for the papers and for facts and figures, thus diluting the impact of what came before.


Prem says, And now to see what the afternoon session brings us -- and, from a personal point of view, to see if my fingers can last the distance :-)


Prem says, Elsewhere, while the PM has contented himself with saying that the UPA will get the vote of the majority present and voting, Pranab Mukherjee claims the UPA will end up with 276 votes. If he is right, that means the government is stable in and of itself, since it no longer will be dependent on outside support. Rediff accounts for some 271 of those votes, we don't quite know where the others are coming from. Here is the numbers we have: http://specials.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/15upanumber.html


Prem says, Meanwhile, there is a debate going on in front of the cameras, and much buying and selling going on in the background. Here's Dr Shashi K Pande, a former associate professor at Johns Hopkins University in the US: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21guest.htm


Prem says, Back in the Central Hall, most MPs seem not to have come back from lunch yet. Plenty of open spaces.


Prem says, Professor Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party now rises to speak.


Prem says, And in professorial fashion, he starts off with Albert Einstein and the birth of the theory of relativity.


Prem says, An old Einstein joke: if you are sitting on a hot stove, five minutes seems like five hours. If you sit with a pretty girl, five hours will seem like five minutes. This simple explanation of relativity, he says, is now relevant when looking at ongoing political developments


Prem says, He says that those who govern the country need to keep two factors always in mind: the needs of the country, and its prestige and position in the internatinoal agenda.


Prem says, The PM, with his rigid uprightness, has given India immense prestige in the international arena, he says. And adds that he would like to comment about what Advani and SAleem said, before offering some thoughts of his own.


Prem says, In what I suspect will be a trope throughout this debate, he describes Advani as a man perennially waiting for the PM's post.


Prem says, Enter into this debate the Gujarat riots -- Vajpayee called it a national shame, Yadav points out, while Advani justified it, and now he talks of morality.


Prem says, Another recurring theme: The PM, by numbers existing, had no need to seek a vote of confidence, but he did it on his own. He is interrupted by someone from the BJP who says it was under duress.


Prem says, Yadav says, you are talking of compulsion? Let me talk of compulsions, and quote from the Shiv Sena paper Saamna, which has called the Left and its opposition to the deal a case of treachery.


Prem says, Manmohan Singh's lips slightly open, which is the closest he gets to a huge laugh. The others are clearly enjoying this.


Prem says, Advani says that while it is true that during a confidence vote the government in totality has to be critiqued, this is a session called for a specific purpose. On this note, he talks of Pokhran, and asks, when do you test? When you need information, or when you think what you are doing is on the right track or not. He says the US, Russia etc don't test -- when they did, it was with a s[pecific purpose. now that we are in a position to have the knowledge we need, and are in fact manufacturing nuclear weapons, where is the need to test? And second, if we do need to test, then who can stop us?


Prem says, he says that the PM should be complemented for getting the required agreement with the IAEA, and the promise of NSG exceptions, without signing either the NPT or the CTBT.This, Yadav points out, is unprecedented.


Prem says, He now points to Advani's trail of blood accusation, and says it was the BJP that was in power, and Advani was home minister, when Parliament was attacked, two days after there was an intelligence warning, when Jammu and Kashmir [Images] Assembly was attacked. And now Advani forgets all this, and talks of the trail of blood across India under the UPA.


Prem says, The occasional protests are muted. MPs still recovering from lunch, apparently. Now Yadav cuts to Amarnath.


Prem says, He points out that when the BJP was in power and unseasonal cold had hit pilgrims on the amarnath yatra, Muslims in the area had opened up shelter, and provided food.


Prem says, And now Yadav moves on to the points raised by Mohammad Saleem, and refers to the words of the Hyde Act. He says the exact words appeared in public domain August 1, 2007 -- and that Saleem was not looking at the words as they are written but at his own slanted interpretation.


Prem says, hE THEN TALKS OF THE SIX BASIC PRINCIPLES THAT sALEEM SAID WAS PART OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BASIS OF GOVERNANCE, THAT THE LEFT AGREED TO. Sorry for the caps, keyboard got stuck


Prem says, He tells the Left that if it thinks there is going to be any benefit to siding with the BJP, the Left is mistaken. Cue uproar, though not for long. He says Saleem talked of women's empowerment. Where has the Left followed that principle in its own governments? In Bengal, it is a mere 7 per cent, he points out -- cuing more back and forth.


Prem says, And even that seven percent, he points out, is clever accounting, because the Left hasincluded women who won seats reserved for OBCs and other reserved seats in the percentage for women, where the intent is clearly that the women's seats should be independent of those categories.


Prem says, Prof Yadav is now moving into a discussion of available means of power. the Left keeps interrupting, and Somnath says hey, you talk to me, not across the aisle.


Prem says, Another jab at the Left -- he alks of how the Left movement arose in international polity, and says now you can come sit with the BJP, and you will truly live up to that label of the 'Left'.


Prem says, Pointing out that India has thorium reserves, he argues that India can hold on to those reserves, develop those technologies, and meanwhile use uranium procured from elsewhere before prices of uranium rise like oil prices are rising now.


Prem says, The Left keeps interrupting, and Yadav takes another jab: this time, on the collapse of the public distribution system in Left ruled states. He keeps doing this -- when he is interrupted, he takes a jab, then he waits out the uproar and gets back to his main theme.


Prem says, He says now the fun is whether Advani will be PM and the Left will agree, or will Advani agree to the person the Left is promoting -- an indirect reference to Mayawati. And he says, you are talking of horse trading?


Prem says, Another little jab -- tghis whole thing is to satisfy the ego of one person, he says. Four members from across the aisle cross over to gesticulate and yell at some of the SP members. These guys seem to be BSP MPs, who are now walking up to the well of the House and approaching the Speaker. Somnath on his feet, says this is very unfortunate. They are yelling, Somnath keeps saying hum dekhenge, and Parliamentary democracy at hits very worst is on clear display. Somnath walks away, leaving his chair, and everything comes to a stop.


Prem says, The protesting members follow him backstage. Someone seems to have pulled the plug -- visuals continue, but the sound has been turned off in Central hall. Oh here we go -- adjourned for 10 minutes.


Prem says, the joke is, Yadav didn't name Mayawati. He merely said one person's ego, which could as easily refer to Advani.


Prem says, Meanwhile, news flash: Mamta Bannerjee of the TMC has decided to abstain from the vote. Interesting -- she wouldn't want to side with the Left, given the bitter battle in West Bengal, nor yet vote on behalf of the Congress.


Prem says, So the "undecided" has decided to become unaffiliated.


Prem says, These periodic interruptions are very unwelcome in what should have been a serious, substantive debate. Personally not complaining, however, since they give me time to rest my fingers. :-)


Prem says, Meanwhile, the speaker of the moment, Prof Ram Gopal Yadav, started out quite nicely, but seems to have since lost the plot. he may have managed to rile the Left and now the BSP, but as far as making telling points is concerned, he began and ended with the fact that the UPA managed to get a good agreement with the IAEA without signing the two major non prolif protocols: a point he made early on, and hasn't improved since.


Prem says, The bloke in pagdi announces the Sabha is back in session. Somnath walks back, and appeals to people to debate in a proper manner, and to avoid constant interruptions.


Prem says, I hope this is being translated for those members who don't understand the language. And now back to Yadav.


Prem says, He says in a 16 year career, he has never been accused of saying anything unparliamentary, and to please not interrupt with such allegations.


Prem says, He says this vote of confidence impacts the MPs, not the government. He says the UPA will win, but if it loses, the government will remain, but Parliament will be dissolved -- and nowadays, in successive elections, up to 60 per cent of incumbent MPs have lost. This draws bipartisan laughter, as he underlines the point that it is the MPs that are in danger. And on a note that draws smiles from the PM and a laugh from Pranab, Yadav sits.


Prem says, Devendra Prasad Yadav, RJD MP from Bihar, up next. You will find on Rediff an earlier interview with the one MP who, perhaps more than all others, is opposed to the women's reservation bill.


Prem says, His argument is that in the ongoing vote, he gets the feeling there is a foreign hand, a country or countries that wants to inhibit India's nuclear progress. No confusion after a statement clearly intended to bait the Left.


Prem says, Somnath meanwhile taking a break, and the deputy speaker in the air. He points out that the Left has repeatedly raised objections, and debate is welcome. But in no Parliament anywhere in the world does the opposition call into question the basic integrity of the PM, because it then reflects on his prestige, hence the prestige of the country, in the internatinoal forum. Debate and differences are fine, but not questions of the kind the Left raised, where they said it was a deal between Bush and Singh and not two soverign governments.


Prem says, He says, Advani asked where is the rush. His response is, if India does not, as the most advanced nations are doing, refine its technology to the maximum extent possible, then when?


Prem says, Saleem, sitting just behind the speaker, seems inordinately amused. At one point, Prasad had to turn and request him to stop laughing and joking with his mates. Now he went away, came back with a laptop bag, left it on the table and walked away again -- while Prasad continues to talk of nuclear energy, how Japan was devastated by Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that hasn't stopped other nations, and even Japan, from using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Um. Not so sure why he is rambling on in a vein that seems to leave most cold. the key point is that when he rose to speak, he said he was speaking in support of the motion, that is, in support of the government, so -- in any case a no brainer -- count the RJD in.


Prem says, For the record, the RJD has 24 MPs. When last someone checked, the SP had 39. And of course, the Congress has 152. Which is the running count of the parties that have spoken in favor thus far. On the other side, thus far, the BJP with 128, and the CPM with 43.


Prem says, He talks of the opposition's allegation of horse trading, and argues that the recent Left-BJP marriage, the roping in of Mayawati and other recent developments are an indication of how they are behaving in ways opposed to their own words.


Prem says, He says if the BJP talks of terrorism, what do you call bifurcating the country on the basis of religion?


Prem says, The trouble with this speech is, it just jumps from point to point with no coherent structure. The Dy Speaker points out that the RJD has been allotted only 32 minutes, and the clock is running out not just for this speaker, but for the party as a whole. Point well taken, clearly Mr Prasad has nothing much more to say, so it makes little sense to eat into time better deployed by the party leader later in the debate.


Prem says, Now the BJP on its feet yelling, and Prasad yelling louder, with Ram, Ayodhya, Gujarat and other basic anti-BJP allegations being bandied about, in between which Prasad says if he is not allowed to speak, then he won't let the BJP speak either. He now cuts to Sethu Samudram, says the BJP is protesting the destruction of the site, but is itself responsible for the dynamiting of various religious shrines. Oops, this is now becoming incoherent.


Prem says, And now he sits down. And from his seat, jumps up and keeps yelling, now about how the BJP is destroying Hinduism. Dy Speaker goes please sit down, quite impartially since everyone is on their feet yelling, all at the same time.


Prem says, We resumed at 3, it is now 4.10, and thus far we have had two speeches, the second not yet over. At least, Prasad is still yelling, though his speech proper is over. Dy Speaker goes please sit down, in a constant loop. He is the only one taking his own advice and sitting.


Prem says, 31. That is how many times Dy Speaker mahoday has said please sit down after Prasad ended his speech. I'm counting till he gets to his century. While I typed that, he said it 10 more times, so this is almost like a Sehwag innings in speed.


Prem says, Laloo Yadav now, from the Treasury benches, and he is combative. He says either sit down, or let's start the Mahabharat right now. Ooops, this is akhara stuff, with Lalu daring the members to battle.


Prem says, I was anticipating fireworks when Lalu began speaking, but here the guy hasn't even started yet, and everyone is in a ferment!


Prem says, Barring a couple of members,all the rest of the BJP is on its feet. Appearances are that Lalu is not about to speak, he was merely taking up for his party colleague, who was getting yelled at by the NJP. Dy Speaker changes tune. "Please go to your seat" is the new mantra. A dozen times and counting, but who is listening?


Prem says, Ah, finally some variety: Aap apne seat pe jayiye, Dy Speaker says, switching to Hindi for a change. Back now to English. If this is Parliamentary democracy, extended exposure might still convert this country into welcoming a dictatorship or some such. BJP wants to know how Lalu began speaking, Dy Speaker says he is a minister and thus can intervene in a debate.


Prem says, Prasad back on his feet, daring the BJP to disprove his allegations.


Prem says, And expanding on his allegation that a temple of Krishna was demolished by the BJP itself. SAyus he will prove it, if challenged.


Prem says, Prasad continues his allegations, and finally decides to stop.


Prem says, The next speaker, who I cannot identify by sight -- will wait for official identification, is upset and at the top of his voice yells about how everyone is yelling,a nd n one is listening to the Dy Speaker. Everyone is on his own trip, says the hon MP who is on his own trip just now, talking of the dignity of the House. Now he gets to the point, and says no one is talking of whether the deal is good or bad, whether it will benefit the poor, none of the issues in fact are being debated.


Prem says, Sorry, folks, don't know who this bloke is. Brajesh Pathak of the BSP, from Unnao. There you go, one of 17 BSP MPs, and he is obviously opposing the vote of confidence.


Prem says, He talks of America having turned its face away from nuclear power and asks how then it can be good for India. If America is worried about the dangers of nuclear energy plants, how can this be good for India? And so on.


Prem says, President Pratibha Patil [Images] has apparently skipped her regular briefings and is sitting glued to the TV. Hope the august lady is enjoying this: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21upavote21.htm


Prem says, Meanwhile, the buzz in political circles is that Advani's speech was a tacit admission that the UPA will win the vote: Sheela Bhatt reporting from New Delhi: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21upavote21.htm


Prem says, Sorry, this is the link: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21upavote23.htm


Prem says, Elsewhere, the Sena has misplaced one of its 12 MPs, and has no idea where he is: http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/jul/21upavote1.htm


Prem says, The BSP MP is meanwhile putting on a performance. Been told by Dy Speaker to speak softer, and each time he raises his voice another notch -- I wonder if he is speaking to this Lok Sabha, or pitching his voice to be heard back in Lucknow, by his leader. Not intending to be disrespectful -- oh hell, that is exactly what I am intending, this is a pointless ramble that is just going around and around in a circle.


Prem says, He says that India will never be a slave to any foreign power. That is nice to know, we can now rest in peace.


Prem says, the deal will help the US financially, says the hon'ble MP, but the UPA is not thinking of whether it is of any use to India. the UPA is functioning on the remote control wielded by the US, he adds. It is that kind of speech, all sound and fury -- a lot of sound, and a lot of fury -- signifying very little. I wonder, in passing, why MPs haven't grasped the point that the deal does not begin and end with the US -- India in fact is in a buyer's market, and once the NSG approves, can trade with any of the 45 nations, the deal does not lock the country into trading in nuclear tech and raw materials with just one country.


Prem says, He says he is confident that the people of India and the elected representatives are smart enough tos ee through this game, and to defeat the UPA. Now he wants to know what crime Saddam Hussein committed that he had to be brought down. Um -- so he is voting against the UPA because Saddam Hussein was brought down? Oh-kay. Meanwhile, actress Jayaprada, in a bright green sari that in those lights has turned her face a light green, fighting down a yawn and trying to look interested.


Prem says, Now he is taking up for the Left: When you insulted it by announcing in Japan that you are going ahead with the deal, did you think of the party that had kept you in power all these years?


Prem says, I am having considerable fun watching the expressions of the MPs. One bloke, just behind the speaker, is playing with his tongue, flicking it in and out and munching on something. Mohammad Shakeel is having the time of his life, constant smile on his face, and much jokes for his neighbors. Meanwhile, the BSP speaker goes on. He is saying quite a bit, all at the top of his voice, and it is very clear that he doesn't like America. Uh oh, he doesn't like Laloo either, because he is going on about Lalu and saying if he had a conscience, he would join the BSP.Lalu gestures at the MP, asking him to talk to the Speaker, not to him.


Prem says, Now Prasad wants to know why the big scientists in the country are not going with the deal. Um. Dy Speaker says if you talk low, everyone can hear you. Prasad names two former nuclear scientists who have said the deal is bad. Apparently the statements of Dr Kakodkar and others passed by him, somehow. Oh well.


Prem says, The Dy Speaker just informed the hon'ble MP that the entire time allotted to his party is now over. not that it makes any difference. 'Thank you,' says Dy Speaker. Prasad says we are doing all this natak for the sake of 2 or 3 per cent of energy. Please sit, says Dy Speaker. No, I still have much to say, he says. And goes right back to where he started. And now talks of how the UPA put the CBI on Mayawati's case -- finally, even Sonia Gandhi is moved to smile.


Prem says, Oh sorry, not over, there is a postscript, and he continues, now in poetic mode. Parmanu se pet nahin bharega, says Prasad. And thanks the Dy Speaker


Prem says, Next, TRR Balu. rising to support the motion, not that it needs saying ubt you are supposed to say it anyway.


Prem says, Some debate on how Balu got to talk. Dy Speaker points out that Balu is speaking as a member of the DMK party, which has more MPs than whoever i9s protesting. That would be 16 MPs, who Balu says are supporting the motion.


Prem says, Ooops, I am not sure if he is Balu or Baaalu. Anyway, to save my fingers, am using just one 'a'.


Prem says, "A friend in need is a friend indeed". Okay. My Leftist friends will support us in all issues except this, because of ideological reasons, and your support is always welcome, says balu, asking for continued support in the days to come. that means we are going to win the confidence motion, he adds.


Prem says, He says he won't bring up Sethu Samudram, as it is sub judice. Why do we need power? For development, constant development. He says power has to be coupled with infrastructure, which is social and physical infrastructure.


Prem says, 6.8 lakh is requirement. Avaialble, 5.4. 24,000 million units shortage, he says.


Prem says, he says that the government expects 20,000 MW by 2029. Why has the government not been able to ush nuclear so far? because of sanctions, which meant technology and equipment not in a position, NSG nations could not supply to India.


Prem says, He says any shrewd businessman should go for product mix. Here, hydro electric, wind, coal, fossil fuels -- and also nuclear.


Prem says, Mmmm... tyhere is a woman two rows behind Balu, who is peacefully asleep. Got her earphones on, so probably the speeches put her to sleep. Balu now talks of how Bush and Singh entered into a dialogue. It was not new, the genesis lies in the time of Pandit Nehru.


Prem says, The sleeping lady briefly woke up when Nehrus name came up, and is dropping off again -- seriously, there is a 'where am I?' look in her eyes! Balu meanwhile is on the Joint Statement, and how it provides for nuclear relationship between the two countries. Not at the cost of sovereignty, not at the cost of existing programs. it covers -- never mind, he is reading from the August 2005 joint statement, word for word.


Prem says, Driving to the point that in that joint stagement it spells out that it will not affect the right of India to carry out its nuclear tests. India's foreign policy is consistent, and no one can meddle with it, says Balu.


Prem says, Okay, so anyway, Balu's basic point is that the deal/agreement is essentially meant to remove India from the nuclear apartheid umbrella. Got it. But Balu goes on.


Prem says, He says everyone in the room knows all this, and what is going on is a drama for political reasons. now he says that Manmohan Singh is the most lovable and affectionate personality of India, and why is he now being questioned?


Prem says, The DMK has some brilliant orators in its ranks. I should say had, during its halcyon days. Balu wouldn't make the cut, then or now. Now he is comparing growth rates and forex reserves when UPA took over and now. Food security -- nod to Sharad Pawar [Images]. The food production is the highest ever for India. Rice, wheat, both the highest since Independence, he says.


Prem says, Inflation is there, but the point is that commodities will always be available in the market. The UPA government "secured the food security", he says.


Prem says, now Balu is on a lecture about physical infrastructure and social infrastructure and how the two together lead to economic development.


Prem says, By way of aside, it is precisely this kind of economic jargon that made me drop out of college in the first place. Meanwhile, Balu is onto drinking water, and how "they" are going to establish 17 mega universities.


Prem says, "Not only that, sir, flagship program of Bharat Nirman", says Balu, and pays routine obeisance to Madam, Manmohansinghji, et cetera. now he runs off to rural irrigation: 10 million hectares target, 38 million achieved.


Prem says, Similar figures for rural roads, to underline the point, in case you missed it the first 100 times, that the UPA has done well. What about rural housing sir... more stats.


Prem says, 24,000 villages have been provided with rural telecommunication.


Prem says, For some reason, now the Opposition on its feet, apparently disputing the figures. Please. Please. Please. From the Dy Speaker. More figures from Balu. Now he says 17 lakh programs have been identified under this flagship program -- which I don't follow.


Prem says, "UPA government provided 60,000 crore in the latest budget. But at the instance of Madam Soniaji and Mr Rahul Gandhiji, the FM has increased it to Rs 71,000 crore."


Prem says, Dy Speaker tells him his party time is getting over. Okay, says Balu, I'll speak as a member of the government. Duh! Now he goes on about x thousand kilometers, which if you asked him to immediately repeat he wouldn't be able to. I don't mean to go on about the guy, but this really is a pointless, and incredibly boring, speech, and it is ludicrous to keep dragging in Sonia Gandhi to credit all these kilometers. A little while ago, one of the speakers made the distinction -- Pranab, actually -- between a political committee constituted by the UPA chairperson, and the government. Balu is in danger of blurring that distinction, by talking of all the kilometers of roads laid by madam soniaji.


Prem says, 


Prem says, 


Prem says, Now we are into ports: tonnage handled, metric tones capacity increased, traffic handled, all comparing NDA and UPA anbd there you go again, bringing Madam Gandhi into this.


Prem says, Okay, Balu has ended his speech, and it is now the turn of Anand Dighe, who has been told he has just 16 minutes for his party.


Prem says, He is speaking in opposition to the motion. And his first point is that the government is already in a minority. TReasury MPs questioning that. DY Speaker goes back to his routine.


Prem says, "Please listen him", says Dy Speaker. He says PM has admitted his government is in minority, otherwise why bring such a resolution? Why call this session?


Prem says, Sorry, my bad, Anand Geete of the Shiv Sena.


Prem says, he says this government took office on the basis of the letter presented to the President four years two months ago, that the UPA is forming a government with the support of the Left. Two days ago, the Left has given a letter saying it has withdrawn support. The PM should at that point have resigned, says Geete. Lalu gets up to intervene, and points out that at the same moment, SP gave support, so the question of resigning does not arise.


Prem says, Even with that, says Geete, government is in a minority. he then says it will be decided tomorrow.


Prem says, This debate is on theat motion, he points out, and not on the nuclear deal. that issue is not on the table.


Prem says, BTW, for the record Shiv Sena has 12 MPs, of which one has gone missing.


Prem says, He says Advani has in some length spoke of why the NDA is in opposed to the motion. And that it is natural to examine the four year record of the UPA government. Hmmm -- this is a very long preamble.


Prem says, When Geete says the nuclear deal has no role in this debate, I wonder what the Left thinks? It is after all withdrawing support -- and thus necessitating this session -- on that issue alone.


Prem says, He is now talking of horse trading. Thaqt is a privilege issue, the Trasury objects. Much back and forth now on that.


Prem says, Ramdas Athavle is also busy talking at the same time. As is the Dy Speaker.


Prem says, This is a bit of a loop. He says horse tradiing, everyone yells, then order is restored, then he says the same thing. And he says if you want to take a privilege motion against me, then do it against the television channels announcing all sorts of deals. Lau says the government has already decided to file privilege against these channels.


Prem says, his 16 minutes are up, btw, but Geete hasn't even gotten started yet.


Prem says, Geete says it appears that the nation has only one issue, and that is the nuclear deal with the US. Whereas the fact is inflation is up, prices are up, and that economists are frightened that it ca rise to 15 of even 16 per cent. what is the government doing about this? Nothing, except to say it is a global phenomenon.


Prem says, He says that 12 rupees is the per capita income of India per day. And from that, a related string of poverty figures


Prem says, he says you are saying if the deal goes through then lights will burn everywhere, this is an example of how the people are being fooled.


Prem says, he points out that he was a former power minister, and from that basis, over 60 per cent of villages has no power. 40 plus per cent villages dont even have distribution systems for power.


Prem says, Says even Delhi has no provision to generate its electricity


Prem says, 


Prem says, On Pranab Mukherjee's contention that India will have huge deficits, he says that the country has huge potential of 1 lakh mw for hydroelectricity. Says it is the cheapest and cleanest form of electricity.


Prem says, more interruptions, more requests from the Dy Speaker.


Prem says, Geete says Maharashtra, which was once tops in the country, now has 14 hours of load shedding.


Prem says, Prices are going up, farmers are committing suicide, the government waived loans of the farmers or so it announced, but there is not a single rupee provided in the budget for this purpose.


Prem says, Banks have been ordered to make lists of those whose loans have been waived, and the banks have made the lists. But the banks have not been given the funds to waive the loans.


Prem says, Lalu Prasad finds something very funny, and is seen giggling to himself. Meanwhile, Geete says because f this confusion, cooperative banks across Maharashtra have fcollapsed. More interruptions.


Prem says, I thought the Sena had just 16 minutes? GEete has been going on for three times that number, and no sign of stopping.


Prem says, The farmers whose loans have been waived are not getting fresh loans from banks. He says membes of the UPA wont be able to go to the villages of India, because of the anger prevailing there.


Prem says, By now, everyone is busy shouting. Treasury questioning Geete's statements, Opposition backing Geete, and Geete shouting above all this noise. Now he says if one farmer can be proved to have been given loands, he will resign his MP's seat. About a dozen MPs spring up, presumably with examples.


Prem says, Total chaos.


Prem says, Dy Speaker on his feet, saying no one interrupt the person speaking. So promptly some 20 MPs interrupt him. They don't need a Speaker here, they need riot police.


Prem says, The contention from the government is, right, we will prove you are wrong, will you resign right now?


Prem says, Ramdas Athavle keeps jumping to his feet no matter what the issue, and talks constantly. His mike is off, but he doesn't seem to need oen -- he just yells anyway, even if 35 others are also yelling. If this was high school, half the guys would have been suspended by now, but then this is Parliament, so I guess different rules apply. Meanwhile, Somnath Chatterjee back in the seat, and he says now let me try and restore order.


Prem says, Ow, he says we will extend time till it is all over. There goes the night.


Prem says, The joke is other Shiv Sena members are the ones disturing Geete. Sominath says his time is over. Geete says no one is letting him talk. So 20 people jump to their feet and say no one is letting him speak. Somnath says from 16 minutes, it has taken 37 minutes. Geete says out of 16 minutes, the interruptions have taken 15.


Prem says, Now Geete says, you read what Rahul Gandhi [Images] told farmers in Vidharbha. Somnath says, good, you guys read.


Prem says, He says he and Rahul are saying the same thing, in different ways. And goes back to the deteriorating plight of the farmers. Somnath says thank you thank you, enough. Geete thinks it is not enough, and says that the UPA is still on about the nuclear deal. "Are you starting again?", asks Somnath, and now the Speaker and Geete are at it over time.


Prem says, Geete says he will only take two more minutes. And he says that the Left withdrew support, and gave the reason why -- and the government should now give answers. Hyde Act now comes up. The danger is that the act protects the US, and we have no such protection. Somnath keeps trying to get Geete to sit down. He says stop recording. Geete continues. Not saying anything new, merely comparing the US to the East India Company.


Prem says, Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD, from Orissa, next. The BJD has 11 MpS, opposing the motion


Prem says, Why is the government in a hurry to sign the nuclear deal, asks Mahtab, reading painstakingly from a prepared statement.


Prem says, The Congress is deceitful, and I will explain how, he says. He says Vajpayee had posed three basic questions: would the deal contain India's strategic deterrence capability, whether it would halt india's strategic nuclear policy, and whether it would haltthe program in the long run. The Hyde Act has underlined these three fears, he says. The bloke behind him nods off.


Prem says, He says the BJD believes that a strategic alliance with US is in India's interest, as is an alliance with Russia. But that India is a sttrong power, and there is logic behind Advani's argument that the NDA will renegotiate the deal. And he says again that his party is not against the alliance. And so on.


Prem says, France has 70 per cent met by nuclear, Japan and Germany [Images] 50 per cent, they are marching ahead, and India hopes to have 20 per cent at least by 2020, if we start now.


Prem says, I thought he was making a case for the UPA, but he says that the cost per unit of nuclear power will be Rs 17 per unit.


Prem says, Will the government amend its own nuclear act, he asks, and says the PM has kept a sphinx like silence on the question.


Prem says, He says the issue is of parliamentary etiquette, but doesn't say how. He now says the government says it will not share the details of the agreement with the Left sicne it is not party to the government. But now we find that the deal is on the internet. The government says it is a national issue, but we don't talk to the nation about this


Prem says, he now says he would like to analyse his own reaction to India against the global nuclear firmament. Good grief.


Prem says, We started with nothing, and dared to attempt the impossible. And so on.


Prem says, There's two ladies behind him, who are having a total blast. Much talking, much laughing, no listening, and for once, i don't blame them -- this guy is so tepid, he hasn't even been interrupted once.


Prem says, He is now talking of how the world ganged up against us with sanctions, and says India is happy to live in a well of discrimination. Ouch.


Prem says, Okay, when he says that, he says we are happy to be self reliant. And a moment later, he talks of how we don't havethe latest tech, we are constrained for our own needs.


Prem says, The question is, if the nuclear deal takes India forward, what are we giving up in return? He says the deal puts us in a subservient position. The world doesn't recognize us as a nuclear weapons state, he says. Um -- boss? That ship has sailed. You wont get that recognition -- NDA, UPA, whatever -- unless you agree to sign non proliferation protocols, so for the sake of your argument, you need to go the hell away from that point.


Prem says, Somnath says yes, yes, now please be brief.


Prem says, "The Left has deserted after running with the hare and hunting with the hounds". Um. Oh-kay. It's that kind of speech.


Prem says, Bhartruhari Mahtab says the motion has been moved by the PM to ask for confidence in the PM and council of ministers. Has it contained prices? Yes, says Somnath. I suspect Somnath means yes, shut up -- not yes, the UPA has contained prices. Mahtab goes on, despite the broad hints of the UPA.


Prem says, LAstly, says Mahtab. Lastly, short sentence, says Somnath. Mahtab comes up with a very long staqtement that ends with opposition to the motion


Prem says, Next up, Anand Sharma. MoS, External Affairs. Who wants to know why the government is deemed to have lost confidence, when it has done everything over four years that is in the national interest.


Prem says, Sharma is now going into a string of hazaar karods. His point is, whatever the BJP an the NDA did in 6 years, the UPA has already surpassed inside four years.


Prem says, Now Sharma is on the point of India's energy deficiency, and why it needs nuclear power. Nothing new in what he is saying, but he is saying it anyway. Very inoffensive remarks, but someone decides to interrupt anyway. Somnath is pissed off.


Prem says, Sharma continues, making all the government's talking points, without adding anything in particular to what has been said before. while on this, you ahve to think the government is not managing its resources well -- Sharma is wasting time making points already very well made by Pranab, instead of opening up fresh ground or taking on some of the criticism that has been levelled between Pranab's pre-lunch speech, and now


Prem says, 


Prem says, Sharma now laying the ground for a clip from Strobe Talbot's book, to underline his point on how the former Finance Minister Mr Jaswant Singh functioned.


Prem says, The point is to counter Advani's allegation that the government was irresponsible in pushing the deal. "Yashwant Singh said India would sign the CTBT. If this was to happen, it would be a significant development... "


Prem says, He quotes, "Jaswant assured me that signature was tantamount to ratification." Point clear, and builds on what Pranab said earlier today, with more focus: That the BJP in negotiating the deal with the US had given away much more than the UPA has. Which is something the BJP has been steering well clear of. Now that two people have brought this up, it will be interesting to see if anyone from the BJP counters this.


Prem says, Sharma asking how the BJP with that record is talking of India's sovereignty and of being a junior partner to the US.


Prem says, Sharma needling Advani, talking of how he is such a senior leader, and should not have spoken the way he did, levelled the allegations he had. Advani not in the hall, hasn't been all afternoon.


Prem says, Sharma now quotes from My Country, My Life, where Advani says he did not know that Jaswant Singh was taking Azhar Mahmood and other terrorists to Kandahar to free them, after the hijack. He points out that if that is true, the Home Minister not knowing of the hijack and related decisions is shameful. but, he adds, Yashwant Sharma has testified that ADvani was present at tthe meeting wheere the decision was taken, and if that is correct, then Advani's words are false.


Prem says, True to form, the BJP up in arms, attempting to drown out something that leaves them a bit vulnerable.


Prem says, BJP members shounting. Sharma waits them out.


Prem says, Sharma says we all know truth is difficult to face. Responding to the challenges thrown at him, he says I can't respond in those words, as my position as a minister doesn't allow me to do that. He then says, daily we hear that if POTA existed, all sorts of things could be done. But the NDA regime with POTA witnessed the attack on Akshardham, on Parliament, on the J and K Assembly, and did nothing.


Prem says, Now he is taking on Shakeel, pointing out that the government's CMP was written by all the UPA partners, and that the government has done much that was not even mentioned in it, and that the Left as supporting those acts of the government also gets its share of the government


Prem says, Hmmm. Sharma's opening was a bit weak, but he seems to be warming up nicely now.


Prem says, he says debate and disagreement is good, but care should be taken not to stand up in Parliament and fling mud on the institution of the PM -- this is for Mohammad Shakeel of the CPM.


Prem says, Sharma now talking of the extensive discussions in the Left-UPA committee. Says he has no objection to the Left and BJP now holding hands. More interruptions


Prem says, he says when Rajiv Gandhi attempted to computerise the country, even then the BJP and the Left had opposed it, and argued that it would destroy employment opportunities.


Prem says, BJP and Left both protesting. Not sure what Left is protesting about, it did in fact oppose computerization.


Prem says, Sharma continues on the same line, and says how the two oarties told the young that this would destroy their future. And points out that thanks to what Rajiv did then, India is now an IT superpower. At the least, he tells the BJP and the Left, admit now that you were wrong. And similarly, he says, I have no doubt that when nuclear power kicks off in this country, the BJP and Left will pretend that it had never opposed this.


Prem says, he says that by 2020, 40,000 MW will be produced by nuclear power. The BJP members back on their feet, and Sharma has a laugh to himself about the whle thing.


Prem says, Sharma says India needs all forms of energy including nuclear, the government is determined to do this, and opposing it is wrong.


Prem says, And now a barb at the BJP: Dont get happy, he says, if we lose, which wont happen, the next pm candidate is mayawati, not Advani. The funny thing is, this is precisely the dilemma the BJP is in -- it doesn't want Mayawati in the seat, and with it the possibility that an entire vote bank will go entirely to her. Sharma meanwhile is listing the number of new reactors in China, in France, in Russia, in the US, and asking why India deosn't go that route, who is stopping it, and why that party or parties is objecting.


Prem says, Sharma seems now to be rounding off, he is making the point that the PM has repeatedly said India's foreign policy, whether in respect to nuclear deals or relations with Iran, or whatever, will remain independent, and free.


Prem says, He says India will be involved in strategic pargternships not just with the US, but with every major power, because India is itself a major power -- thus, he says, India has such partnershijps with Russie, with brazil, with France and Germany and... you get the point.


Prem says, Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI, next.


Prem says, Dasgupta talks of the regret with which the Left has pulled out.


Prem says, he says 60 years of freedom has given political freedom but not econom ic freedom. The Left wanted a political set up that would live up to the exxpectations of the common people


Prem says, He says fundamentalism [read, BJP] is not the only problem, poverty is equally so [read UPA].


Prem says, He says he wont say the UPA did nothing, but will say much could and should have been done, and in this respect, the government did not live up to expectations. that is the tragedy and udner the shadow of that tragedy we are discussing the nuclear deal.


Prem says, He says the Left gave support without asking for the fruits thereof -- ministersships and such. so why is the relationship broken? B ecause of aggressive political unilateralism.


Prem says, He says the suggestions of the Left have been repeatedly ignored, and repeatedly the price of petroleum products were increased.the Left's views on how to contain the price rise was not taken into account.


Prem says, This, he says, is why the relationship with the Left has been broken. The last nail, he says, was the way in which the government bulldozed the India-US nuclear deal. Was it big enough to sacrifice the relationship?


Prem says, He says why is inflation high here, while it is low in European countries that also import petroleum. It is excessive taxation that is playing havoc, says the CPI senior leader. he said the Left had been suggesting that the shortfalls in revenue could be made good by taxing the rich, by taxing profit making corporates, the servi e sector, the high income group. We outlined comprehensive proposals to the government, but the government did not respond.,


Prem says, he says the Left suggested a progressive tax system, that takes money from those who havethe capacity to pay. The government does not have any political commitment to the poor, is Mr Dasgupta's argument.


Prem says, Now he is talking of Sharma and Balu, and their optimistic statements, and says 70 per cent of the country cannot spend mroe than 20 rupees per day.


Prem says, he wants to knwo what the eminent economist dr Singh has come up with as new policy, and says the UPA has been going on the back of the NDA's economic policy. Now he goes into stats, which he says refutes the government statistics.


Prem says, he says in the European countries, the inflation rate is 3.8 per cent. And so on. Somnath says you cant ask questions addressing Mr Balu, and he should talk to the chair. A bit of byplay between the Left leaders.


Prem says, He says if Balu claims food grain procurement is at its highest, then why is food prices going up? how can more supply, more price be good economic policy?


Prem says, He says if the government says FDI has increased, why is there a decline in industrial production?


Prem says, *sigh* As with so manhy speakers today, I find myself wishing, as a commoner and not a journalist, that Parliamentarians when scoring points off each other stopped throwing around percentages left and right -- if he is talking to us people, he lost us.


Prem says, Now that is interesting. Dasgputa asked for time, Somnath gave him five more minutes, Dasgupta had a dig, saying you are a liberal speaker, always having the dissenting view. Somnath promptly took him on, and the two had a brief exchange, both smiling, but clearly venting their disagreement


Prem says, Eh? Without naming the industrial house, Dasgupta talks of the aircraft bought for the wife of the MD, and says it is a shameless display of wealth in a poor country. Why this point, why now?


Prem says, Dasgupta says wants more time, Somnath says no. Gurudas gets his time anyway, and there he goes again, percentages, crores, and more percentages. Boss, people have been listening to this all day -- put a human face to it, please, or you lose us.


Prem says, I remember when everyone was talking of the crores of corruption in Bofors, and those numbers went over people's heads. And VP Singh put it in perspective. the Bakra Nangal dam, he said in a speech made nearby, cost X crore -- and in Congress, there is a guy walking around with eight Bakra Nangal dams in his pocket. that is the difference, I would think between citing figures endlessly, and citing them in a way that will hit the average citizen where it has the most impact.


Prem says, He says there are 1 lakh millionaires, and how many Indians on one dollar a day? This is the failure of the government, says Dasgupta. The treasury benches seem amused. Dasgupta says your commitment is to somebody else -- vide the nuclear deal -- not to the people of India.


Prem says, Elections are knocking at the door, we know what is the verdict of the common people, be prepared, says Dasgupta, and sits.


Prem says, The PM, Foreign Minister, Leader of the Opposition are all away from the House.


Prem says, Shahnawaz Hussain of the BJP, and he starts humorously, about the absent senior leaders, and then takes on Anand Sharma and how he had made fun of Advani's memory. ADvani knows more words in English than Sharma will ever learn, he says. This guy is a bit of a performer, and his mates are enjoying it.


Prem says, Um, the comedy going on too long, more discussion about the interruptions and less aout what he wants to say.


Prem says, Hussain says when the election results came in, the Congress didn't come as winners, didn't think they could form government.


Prem says, Hussain is now pointing out that the BJP had 128 MPs and the Congress, 143 when the results came out.


Prem says, He talks of how during the election campaign, the Congress and the Left were in total opposition. And then, for fear of the BJP, these two parties had suddenly got together.


Prem says, Hussain is as a speaker the typical cow belt politician -- very earthy in how he presents his arguments, the sort of needling humor also typical of such pols, added to the combativeness.


Prem says, He says he was hoping today to hear a discussion on the various programs the Congress had announced, and all of which had been proved to be flops


Prem says, He says he had warned the Left that the Congress would use them, and then spit them out -- and today he has proven right, and the result is seen today, both of them are at odds today. He says the Congress has been taunting the BJP for joining the Left. We are opposed to the Left, and will never join hands with the Left.


Prem says, Pranab Mukherjee is back, and Shahnawaz says that before te PM went to Japan, Pranab had said the Parliament would be first consulted, but before the night was over, the deal was announced as done, with no consultation whatever.


Prem says, He says that the UPA did not share the IAEA safeguards agreement with its ally, with its supporters, with the opposition, or the country, and had hijacked the issue in the dead of night.


Prem says, he said that in 2030, when India is electrified all over, everyone will remember Manmohan Singh as the man who made it possible, and says if nuclear produces 5 per cent, how will this happen.


Prem says, He says the deal is taking India not towards light, but towards darkness. Okay, here's the thing -- this speech will go down very well on the stump in an election campaign, but not sure whether it makes any point in this forum, and at this connection.


Prem says, He too goes into comparisons with the East India company and how it ruled India for 300 years, and says if the deal goes through with the US, then the US will rule India for 600 years. Like I said, this is a stump speech, both content and manner of delivery, not one tailored to this debate.


Prem says, Now he invokes his community, and says in the name of Muslims, various leaders have been hyping the Muslim interest.


Prem says, He points to the SP, and says there was a time when at a Congress dinner the plate was snatched out of the hands of a leader of that party -- a reference to Amar Singh. We felt bad about it, he says.


Prem says, His point is that the Congress and the SP have traded charges, and that he has copies of all their statements.


Prem says, He says I don't know why the SP is in the arms of the Congress today, and what problems it is facing, and if the BJP had ever been treated that way by any party it would rather collapse but will never take support.


Prem says, More interruptions, and Somnath loses his cool.


Prem says, He talks of how when the first Gilf War broke out, there were posters"Dosti ka asli naam, Rajiv Gandhi aur Saddam". And it was in the tenure of thsi government that Saddam was hanged, he says.


Prem says, Not sure what the UPA was supposed to do about that, but anyway. Someone brings up Babri Masjid, and Shahnawaz says the Congress was in power at the time.


Prem says, Now he is in full performance mode, talking of how danger is hovering over the UPA's heads. Somnath wants this to end, and Shahnawaz says he is about to end. He talks of how Imam Bukhari was approached to back the deal, by the Congress, and says he protests that a communal coloring to the nuclear deal.


Prem says, he says the deal is not in favor of Hindus or Muslims, it is against Hindustan per se.


Prem says, he talks now of the Kandahar hijjack, and says the terrorists were fred becaude the party cared for the 150 victims of the hijacking.


Prem says, Shahnawaz says that the party that talks of terrorists was the party that fed Mast Gul biryani in ajmer e sharif. Somnath calls on Praful patel, but Shahnawaz continues.


Prem says, Praful Patel to be the next speaker. Two more hours of debate today.


Prem says, Pat4el on behalf of the NCP. The Mos Civil aviation speaking on behalf of the 11 MPs, and speaking in support.


Prem says, He starts off by suggesting that this is the first time in history that a gvovernment's life is dependent on its foreign policy.


Prem says, he now quotes from a times of India editorial that says the vote is not about the future ofthis government, but about the future of the country, and that MPs should keep this in mind when voting tomorrow.


Prem says, He is surprised, he says, that while the world spends increasing time debating energyu security in a serious fashion, here it is being trivialized for political purposes in this assembly.


Prem says, He points out that both in LS and RS, the PM has repeatedly discussed the government's thinking on the agreement with the US. and yet today, various speakers have spoken casually of the Hyde ACt. He says that Hyde Act has no bearing on India, which Kapil Sibal and others will discuss tomorrow, but even from a layman's perspective, he would like to point out what it says about India -- how it offers waivers to India that go beyond the norm.


Prem says, he says no one has bothered to say what is wrong with the 123 agreement, refers to Shahnawaz saying the East India company ruled for 300 years and if the 123 is signed, US will rule for 600 years, and says where is the seriousness in trading these kind of charges.


Prem says, He taks of how oil exploration under Indira Gandhi [Images] received a fillip. And then how the Pokharan explosion under Indira Gandhi happened. He says someone mentioned that the BJP had said, we did Pokharan II in two months of taking over -- did the BJP seriously expect anyuone to believe that in two months it had done all nuclear preparations for that explosion? His argument being that it was merely part of an ongoing program, and not something the BJP dreamt up from scratch


Prem says, Again, he mentions that the legalities of the deal will be spoken of by chidambaram and Sibal.


Prem says, He said he would have been happy had Gurudas Dasgupta and others had talked of how India should fulfill the energy requirements of the country.


Prem says, Decent speech, where he tries to take a broader view and speaks of the ongoing programs of India and asks why partisan coloring is being given to it.


Prem says, The 123 Agreement is being shown as being between India and US alone. but the fact is that it is international, and has been entered into not just with the US but with various other nations. Again, he repeats the Hyde Act is not applicable to India. His point is the Congress talking point -- that the Hyde Act enables the government of the US to enter into a deal with India, period.


Prem says, More interruptions. Dy Speaker bleating about please dont talk, and proceedings halted.


Prem says, he continues, and says not one speaker has been able to convince the House what the problem with the 123 and the Hyde Act are, and are merely parrotting about the act without going into substance.


Prem says, Mmmm... momentum gone, the speech meandering and repeating itself, about how the Hyde Act does not apply to India, and how no one has pointed to a problem with the 123.


Prem says, Someone argues that Patel saying the Hyde ACt is not applicable to India is not known to the US. Patel says what, our statements are reported in the media, this debate is being watched by everyone, you think the US won't know what we think and what we say?


Prem says, Now he says, the Left spent all its time criticising everyting the government did, but I will say that everything we did was with your knowledge and support.


Prem says, Patel makes an interesting point when he says the opposition is casually talking of using India's reserves of coal -- without bothering to think of the need to preserve some of its strategic reserves, rather than using it uip all of it now.


Prem says, Patel now wants to go into figures about India's energy policy. He says this is in rebuttal to the Left


Prem says, Here we go, figures about petroleum requirements, availability, shortfall and such. Which I will spare you, not because it is not intrinsic to the larger debate, but because at this speed, I cant get it all down, and will end up making mistakes. He points out that the government incurs a loss of Rs 12 per litre on petrol, and all the way up to Rs 35 per liter for kerosene, and Rs 350 per cylinder on gas. His point being, that is the amount of subsidies that the government is making, and therefor ethe Left and the BJP are off base when they allege that the government has not taken the poor intio consideration.


Prem says, Patel seems to be winding out, going back to his original point that the debate has been trivilaized. He says this is not about the government wanting to hang on, since in any case the click is running out. The question, he says, is the direction the country is moving in. He says the patriotism of the PM was being questionined by sections of the opposition. And that, he says is the leitmotif of this particular debate.


Prem says, Are we going to take India 50 years back or are we taking it to the future


Prem says, Praful Paten ends with a request to members to vote in favour of the government


Prem says, Next up is the Akali Dal's Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP from Ropar


Prem says, 


Prem says, Starts by saying we wants friendly relations with all nations, but friendship with one nation cannot be at the cost of another


Prem says, 


Prem says, We want nuclear energy he says


Prem says, Says when Dr Singh was made PM, his party welcomed it despite being in opposition.


Prem says, But asks what the PM has done for the farmer. Says farmers are reeling under debt. Leads to heated protests


Prem says, 


Prem says, Says the PM has also done nothing for industry in Punjab.


Prem says, Says on the turban issue in France, says he did nothing when French President Nicholas Sarkozy came visiting. But took up the case of Lakshmi Mittal's factory troubles


Prem says, The point here is that the Akali Dal is througb its speaker countering the allegation that the Sikhs are pulling down a Sikh prime minister, by arguing that the PM did nothing for the Sikhs.


Prem says, Sukbhir Singh Libra continues giving instances of how the PM rrepeatedly ignored the needs of Punjab's Sikhs.


Prem says, he says the Sikhs have asked for all historic gurudwaras to cme under the SGPC.


Prem says, This too has been ignored repeatedly by the Central government. Hence, in the last four and a half years, has the PM done anything by which the Sikhs can say yes, he looked out for our interests?


Prem says, Um -- so that is why the Akalis are voting against the government, because the Sikh PM did nothing for Sikhs? It seems to suggest that every PM has to gfive sops to his particular community, and failure to do so is a good reason to vote agianst the government. Not sure that is a valid point, but that is the one being made at great length just now, as the debate now moves into its final hour of today.


Prem says, Tomorrow should be fireworks time. You will, besides the PM's concluding response, likely hear either Kapil Sibal or P Chidambaram, or likely both, and they will focus on the legalities of the deal and the economics of nuclear power. Rahul Gandhi will likely speak -- this after all is as far as the Congress is concerned his coming out party, his first step on the national public stage. Lalu Yadav, almost certainly, and that will cue considerable interruptions if Lalu is true to form. Wondering who the big guns will be from the Opposition benches.


Prem says, Libra, meanwhile, continues on his own tack, of the Sikhs and their feeling of disillusionment. His time has run out, but he is going on anyway -- and here comes the obligatory quote from Guru Gobind Singh and from the Granth Sahib.


Prem says, Both in Punjabi, so I wont attempt a translation.


Prem says, Libra says that the Akalis are voting against the government because in four and a half years, the government has done nothing. And with that, he sits down.


Prem says, Speaker says dinner will be ready by 9.15 PM in room number 70, first flor, Parliament House. I seriously want to see how many are in their seats when this debate reaches its last half hour


Prem says, Up next, Prabhunath Singh of the JD U from Bihar.


Prem says, I was right. When Singh was called, there were about six people visible behind him, o the tight camera frame. Now, there is just one person beside him, and I can count six, no seven, empty seats beside and behind him. Dinner!


Prem says, Singh says he doesnt want to go into the integrity of Dr Singh, but his reputation. He points out that when there are elections, bye elections or whatever, candidates go to the people with the name of the party, and their leader. He says, think back to the election of 2004 -- did any congress candidate go around mentioning the name of Dr Manmohan Singh?


Prem says, Interruptions on cue


Prem says, The point being driven into the ground. About how after the elections, Manmohan Singh was not the first choice, but the compromise.


Prem says, He says today, a man whose party does not mention his name is now coming to the opposition and asking for trust.


Prem says, He says, since then there have been dozens of regional elections, and not once has a Congress candidate refernced Manmohan Singh. Uproar again.


Prem says, God the kind of trivia being discussed is insane.


Prem says, Dy Speaker goes please sit down, over and over. Makes little difference, some slogan shouting now happening.


Prem says, Dy Speaker has two things to say: Please sit down. And agar unparliamentary ho tho nikaal denge.He has said that a dozen times each, and no sign that it has the least effect. In the Treasury benches, outside of the first two rows of senior leaders, there are about a dozen MPs, and all of them seem to be on their feet now


Prem says, is there some way the people can express no confidence on this entire lot, government and opposition combined, i wonder? Anyone being subjected to this nonsense will vote in a heartbeat, without debate.


Prem says, The noise now grows, with the Opposition getting into the act as well. So it is pretty much a free for all now, and the Dy Speaker has stopped saying please sit down


Prem says, here's what is the funny part -- some joker says something aggressively, then turns with a smirk to whoever is beside him. Kind of like look what I did.


Prem says, Oops, we are back to please sit down. the Speaker sits down, but cant see too many otehrs doing it


Prem says, By way of trivia, the DMK for some reason seems to favor grey 'safari' suits.


Prem says, Prabhunath Singh says he didn't say anything unparliamentary, which is fair enough. More uproar. Singh points out that a convention is that all government offices have the pictures of the president and the PM on the wall, but is there anywhere that you can see PM Singh's picture? More noise, and now Somnath is back to try and exercise control. somnath says, please talk to the subject.


Prem says, Somnath tells the Congress that Kapil Sibal is due next from Treasury, and he can respond if necessary.


Prem says, Prabunath continues, says that the PM has asked for a debate on the four years and two months of his rule, so it is valid to ask such questions.


Prem says, Now he says Indira Gandhi had resigned and sought reelection, and the government should learn from that example. More noise, Somnath getting apoplexy.


Prem says, Somnath now points out that the Constitution permits any member of the House to become PM, so let's get to the point. Prabhunath says this is the point in fact. Somnath says this is not right, to reduce it to personalities.


Prem says, Prabhunath goes back to his point -- PM has asked us to vote on his record, and hence as a member of parliament he has the right to discuss the PM's personal reputation, his individual record, and all else, and will do it or be damned.


Prem says, prabhunath says he wont discuss the PM's personality any more, because the PM does not have any personality the Congress respects. More red rag waving, but for once it is somnath going on saying come to the point. Prabhunath says the policy is that a man who is a leader should be respected by his own party, and Manmohan Singh is not. From the way he is going on, I suspect that this whole thing is meant to derail debate at this point. Somnath says he is adjourning the House if this keeps up. I suspect the hungrier members of the House will make more noise because they want the House to be adjounrned.


Prem says, No seriously, this is a pretty shameful exhibition on a day that has not been distinguished by the quality of debate and discussion.


Prem says, Somnath on his feet, now reading the riot act, saying this is pure natak, and not particularly edifying natak


Prem says, Somnath points out that the older parliamentarians had been taught to stand and wait for the speaker's permission. Now no one knows the rules or obeys them, he says.


Prem says, Advani is back and listening to all this. Prahunath Singh continues, and now he is on his grievance that no one is listening to him. Now he says that the position is if the trust vote is won, the credit goes to Mualayam Singh and if the government loses, it will go to Mayawati, and Manmohan Singh has no credit in any of this.


Prem says, Now he is talking of all the crores being tossed around in the media. never mind the amounts, he says, if it is one rupee, it is still shameful that money changes hands to save or bring down a government, and asks for an inquiry.


Prem says, He says if the UPA wins, we will know who was bought by looking at who the next minisgters are, and at that point, he says, the Speaker should inquire itno the horse trading.


Prem says, now he goes into the Hyde ACt, and says he wants to know if, according to its provisions, if the gfgovernment of India moves an inch away from the safeguards agreement, what does it require the government to do?


Prem says, The answer he says will demonstrate how much the government is shackled by the Hyde Act.


Prem says, Somnath says make a note, give it to the PM, let him speak to the subject.


Prem says, Nowhe says the Congress historically has been attempting to woo the Muslims. And now it is dancing with the Americans, who have been carring on a systematic campaign against Muslims, vide Saddam Hussein who he says was killed unfairly


Prem says, He says it is clearly dangerous to make a friend of a country like the US.


Prem says, In this entire speech, the one point he has raised is about that particular question relating to the Hyde Act. As a layman, I would say the answer is in there, but I am interested in seeing if there is an official response. I suspect it will come from Sibal. Now Somnath says your time is up, then gives him another 5 minutes tops.


Prem says, He says there is no reason to support the government. He now talks of an NDA meeting, where leaders of the major opposition governments in states were present, and that they all agreed that this government at the Center was deliberately keeping development away from non Congress states. Cue more protests.


Prem says, He talks of how Bihar was denied development funds. And that it was done deliberately.


Prem says, He says the PM in his statutory response tomorrow is duty bound to explain why the Central government has treated Opposition governments in the states in this fashion.


Prem says, Now he is getting into the whole price rise issue. He sarted with 11 minutes on the clock, and is now 34 minutes and counting


Prem says, Now he says the Left is a good friend of the UPA -- the good friend is one who will carry you all the way to the graveyard, and in this sense the Left has proved a good friend of the UPA.


Prem says, Uh oh, now Gurudas Dasgupta is denying the allegation that the Left has packed educational universities with its people. "It isa wild allegation", says Dasgupa. I thought these two were on the same side?


Prem says, And now he says, to the Left, if the Congress is bad, so are you.


Prem says, And he now complements the Speaker for defying the CPM diktat to resign. Somnath says that is out of order, and strikes it off the record.


Prem says, Prabhunath Singh is clearly out to rile pretty much everyone -- the Congress, other allies, the SP, the Left...


Prem says, And thus Prabunath finally winds down and sits dwon


Prem says, Kharabela Swain, BJP MP from Orissa, up next


Prem says, Swain is busy repeating party talking points: how the PM said there is life after the nuclear deal, that it is not the only point on the agenda, and such, a year ago. Adn then spent a year on meetings, and suddenly this show of bravado. He wants to know why.


Prem says, Oh god, now Swain says the PM quoted Guru Gobind Singh, this is a subtle signal to the Sikhs, asking for their support. Talk of trivialising issues.


Prem says, Okay,. so Swain's job is to needle everyone on the Treasury benches.


Prem says, he says Burkino Paso has a GDP of 12 per cent in the last four years. So much for India's GDP. Pakistan seven percent during the last four years. This is going to be slammed by the Treasury, he is pulling numbers from somewhere just now.


Prem says, Swain defies the government to say it can record 9 per cent GDP growth this year. It will not exceed 8.5 p3r cent, he says, quoting the RBI government, and that there will be double digit price rise, and inflation


Prem says, Problem: He is not supposed to say what happened in Standing Committee. Now Somnath says he has quoted from a paper, and asks Swain to produce the paper.


Prem says, he says that if it is only evidence before Standing Committee, then it becomes breach of privilege


Prem says, Swain said earlier that the RBI governor told them personally. Now he says media report. More confusion going on. The thing is, swain is a member of the finance committee, and the RBI governor has deposed before him. That is why there is this confusion.


Prem says, Swain says citing this same media report, that in September the government will raise the price of petrol further. From Congress, the point being made that Swain definitely said he had asked the governor. Which is true: he had. Now Swain talks to the nation, says they are listening to him and he doesn't care if he is not allowed to speak here. That sudden fit of temper seems a neat little ploy to get out of a bind he got into by talking too much without considratiobn


Prem says, Swain continues, on the same vein. It will be the 5th time, he says, that petrol prices will go up.


Prem says, By the way, it is now one mintue short of 10 when the debate was due to end.


Prem says, Now he is into steel and how the cost is going up. Ram Vilas Paswan on a point of order, questions Swain's argument. Paswan's point is, this relates to a debate going on in the steel industry, and has nothing to do with the government.


Prem says, Swain goes on to the nuclear treaty, and says that the nuclear treaty are not india specific, and that the guidelines in the draft are applicable only to non nuclear weapons states. He says of 400, onlyfive are inspected to IAEA inspectrion, whereas in India half of the facilities are subjected to IAEA inspection, he is quoting PK Iyengar, former chairman ofthe Atomic Energy Board and others.


Prem says, He quotes that these nuclear scientists have said the country should not enter into an agreement of this nature without a rigorous examination of the provisions.


Prem says, "Swain's point is there is no consensus even among the scientific community, so why the rush?


Prem says, 


Prem says, Iyengar, you will recall, had appeared on chat on Rediff. Here is the transcript: http://www.rediff.com/chat/pkichat.htm


Prem says, Swain is losing it -- now he is quoting messages from someone's mobile phone? At least, that is how I understand it. Somnath says this is misuse of the House, adjourns it, and says it will meet tomorrow, same time. That is 11, for the debate, though the House will convene earlier for routine b usiness. There ends the day. And thank god for that. Over, folks, and out for the day. See you tomorrow, in here, for the final act of this drama






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