With no political backing on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, the government has only been posturing for a resolution, reports Renu Mittal
After the withdrawal of support by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam from the UPA government, both the houses could not transact any business with a serious question mark over whether the Rajya Sabha would be able to pass the anti-rape bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
On the one hand, the two houses were disrupted by the DMK and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and the proposed resolution in the United Nations. On the other, the Samajwadi Party has continued to be on a war path over Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma’s allegations calling Mulayam Singh Yadav a terrorist.
Mulayam and the Samajwadi Party want the government to sack Beni Prasad Verma despite Sonia Gandhi’s apology to Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Beni Prasad has regretted his words while speaking to the media outside the Parliament but he has not apologized, which is what the Samajwadi Party is looking for. The SP has called a meeting of its Parliamentary Board on Thursday morning to take a call on Beni Prasad and whether the house will be allowed to function. With the government depending on Mulayam and Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party) for its survival, it is only to be expected that the two parties will extract their pound of flesh from the government on key issues.
While the BJP has made it clear they would not allow the anti-rape bill to be passed without a discussion in the house, certainly not in the din, with a senior BJP leader making it clear that if the government can manage to keep the house in order in the Lok Sabha to allow for an eight-hour discussion, then why not in the Rajya Sabha.
So while the anti-rape bill may have to wait till the second half of the budget session if the house does not function in an orderly fashion, political parties like the DMK, the AIADMK and the SP have allowed a half-hour window of peace and restraint to allow the general budget to be passed and another half hour for the Jharkhand Budget to be passed. No discussions will be allowed and those who have anything to say will be asked to place their speeches on the table, as they will be taken as read.
The prime minister spent the day closeted in meetings with senior ministers to work out suitable amendments to the United States Resolution which will come up before the United Nations on Thursday at 2.30 pm India time.
Both the DMK and the AIADMK want strong words like genocide and war crimes included, but the government has left it to the prime minister to take a final call on what amendments need to be moved by India. But by and large they will follow the line set by Sonia Gandhi in her speech at the general body meeting of the CPP where she has asked for an independent and credible investigation into the war crimes in Sri Lanka. She had also expressed her anguish at the killings of tamil civilians in Sri Lanka.
But in the all-party meeting convened by the speaker Meira Kumar to evolve a consensus on a resolution on Sri Lanka, the BJP has said it is not in favour of a country specific resolution, which means they do not want Sri Lanka named. The Janata Dal United, the SP and the left are also of the same view, which defeats the very purpose of the resolution.
Sources say that with no consensus in sight the government has only been posturing, basically to the Tamil parties and the tamilians that they want a resolution. Senior ministers have been talking about the resolution but with no political backing and no consensus, such a resolution is meaningless.
It is interesting that Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress told Parliamentary Affairs minister Kamal Nath, who called her up for support that she would support whatever line the government takes on the issue. Mamata is known for her unpredictability. It is difficult to assess which issue she would support and which she would reject.
With most parties not in favour of a resolution, it is unlikely that there would be a resolution, say Congress leaders who are now working on getting Parliament to function for the next two days. The BJP says it will not move a no-confidence motion against the government as its allies will leave it one by one.
At the moment the biggest group supporting the Congress in the UPA is that of independents which totals 14 with 9 independents and 5 from single member parties. The big regional players like Mamata Banerjee and the DMK have parted company with the Congress.
While there appears to be no immediate danger to the government Rahul Gandhi in a meeting with Uttar Pradesh Congress MPs told them to spend more time in their constituencies and prepare for the elections as the situation is uncertain. He said the Congress will do well in UP and double the number of seats in the state.
With the government getting a one month breather in the form of a parliamentary break, sources say that the government would use the time to rework its strategy as it needs to pass the finance bill, the food security bill and the land acquisition bill as the important items on its list of priorities. The meeting for the land acquisition bill which was scheduled to be held Wednesday had to be postponed as the government mangers were busy in efforts to get the opposition parties to come around and let the Rajya Sabha function.