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Congress may get prestigious PAC, hints Naidu

June 26, 2014 18:03 IST

The Congress may get chairmanship of the prestigious Public Accounts of Committee but still there is no guarantee whether it will get the post of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. There is also no assurance from the government whether the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha will be accommodated in the decision-making process relating to key appointments such as Lok Pal in the absence of the Congress not getting recognition as leader of the opposition.

"I want to take opposition into confidence on the PAC. I am in favour of giving it to the main opposition (Congress)," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told PTI in an interview. Asked whether the deputy speaker's post will go to the Congress, he said "Who among the opposition, I am holding discussions. We will take a decision during the course of the budget session."

Naidu did not want to discuss the issue of whether the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha would be included in the Committees that will decide the candidates for Lok Pal and other statutory bodies in case there is no recognised leader of the opposition from the Lok Sabha.

"The leader of the opposition is not in my domain. It is for the law ministry," he said in reply to a question on the subject.

He said there are precedents about the issue of the leader of the opposition. "The speaker will examine this. How I can say on behalf of the speaker. If any party had more than 10 per cent of seats in the House, the issue would have been settled automatically straightaway. It is for the speaker to take a call."

The parliamentary affairs minister said the standing committee on finance goes to opposition. The Congress, the All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, the Trinamool Congress, the Biju Janata Dal, major opposition parties. "I am in the process of consulting."

Naidu downplayed suggestions that it will be problematic for National Democratic Alliance in the Rajya Sabha in the passage of bills as it was not having majority in the Upper House where the Congress has substantial numbers. He noted that the ruling party did not have majority in the upper house during the Janata Party rule in the late 70s.

"Are bills passed on the strength of numbers of parties? I don't think that has been the practice. It all depends upon the importance and merits of every issue," he said noting that the Bharatiya Janata Party had supported the Food Security and Land Acquisition bills despite the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance bringing them in the "last hour of their tenure".

"I don't think when there is a larger agreement, there is a question of strength of parties..... I only hope political parties take decisions in public interest rather than supporting or opposing bills under political consideration," he said.

Insisting that all important bills will be passed by Parliament, he said that the prime minister is very keen to evolve broad consensus and move forward. "We want to give opposition due respect", he said, adding that he was in touch with Congress leaders in both the Houses as also the leaders of various opposition parties.

Besides, he suggested that wherever there is disagreement on any major bill, "there is also a convention that there is a joint session." Asked about reports of party leader Amit Shah being talked about as next BJP president despite being on bail, he remarked, "that is for the party to decide. We have yet to take a decision on this. This will be done after
consultations."

On Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's suggestion that party veteran L K Advani be made the next President of India, Naidu said, "I will not discuss the internal matters of the political party in public fora or through media. We have better ways of consultations among ourselves. I being a former party president will not like to speak outside."

Asked whether the first budget of Modi government will see bitter medicince being given for the people, he said, "Let us see. I am not the finance minister......Whatever is needed to set right the economy and bring it back on rails will be done."

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