BJP lambasts govt. for rescheduling nuke deal debate

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New Delhi, Dec 4 (UNI) Taking strong exception to rescheduling of debate on the nuclear deal in the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition in the House Jaswant Singh today said it smacked of the Government's ''casual and arbitrary attitude'' to an important issue.

The Upper House was to witness a Short Duration discussion on the Indo-US Nuclear Deal during Zero Hour after laying of papers and reports on the table of the House.

However, it was rescheduled to 1400 hrs because of the non-availability of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee due to their pressing engagements.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachauri, however, clarified that the Prime Minister had some important engagements, forcing the debate to be rescheduled.

''It only illustrates how casually Parliament has been treated by treasury benches,'' Mr Jaswant Singh said.

He said it is an established custom that whenever Prime Minister or External Affairs Minister visits foreign countries, it becomes a mandatory obligation on them to report to Parliament on their visits.

Charging the Prime Minister with breach of convention, he said Dr Manmohan Singh recently visited Russia, Singapore and Uganda, but the latter did not make any statement in Parliament on his visits.

Mr Jaswant Singh said India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had always scrupulously observed this hallowed convention.

He also said Dr Singh absented himself for a week during the ongoing Winter Session, ''which is quite a record for the Prime Minister.'' He said the Prime Minister visited Russia for 28 hours. Later, he went to Singapore for a day, came back from there and left for Uganda.

The BJP leader also complained that the Government had not made any statement in Parliament on the important events taking place in Pakistan and Nepal.

In an apparent reference to the AIIMS Bill, which was approved by Parliament, he said an important bill was passed though it was not listed in the day's proceedings.

''It shows how casually and arbitrarily a bill was passed,'' he said, appealing to the Chair to ensure that the authority of Parliament is not diminished.

In his reply, Mr Pachauri said Mr Jaswant Singh, the then External Affairs Minister, himself visited Korea, China, Thailand and Myanmar during March 29-April 6, 2002. He wanted to know whether Mr Singh made any statement in Parliament on his visits.

''It will serve little purpose if you give only homilies, you should also put them in action,'' he said.

Mr Pachauri also argued that other than making statements, there were various devices -- like Question Hour, Calling Attention and suo motu statements -- for keeping Parliament informed.

UNI

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