Parliament-in-disarray will find any sanity restored this week. The all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resolve the logjam on the controversial foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail failed to deliver and it seems any possible breakthrough would be achieved only next week.
The UPA allies are scheduled top meet on Tuesday to settle internal contradictions, particularly with reference to the DMK, which has called for the meeting. The parliament will be closed on Wednesday because of Guru Nanak Jayanti. The business advisory committee is likely to finalise the discussion schedule on Thursday or Friday and hence the next move on the controversial FDI project can only be taken up next Monday.
At the end of the two-hour-long all-party meeting that was held to resolve the FDI logjam, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Kamal Nath said the parties had taken three distinct strands of opinions and the BJP was not ready to compromise on its demand for a vote on the issue and hence the logjam would continue.
Acocrding to Nath, some of the parties sought a discussion under Rule 184 that entailed voting, while there were others who had merely sought a discussion and were not particular about voting after it. The third group wanted the decision for voting or non-voting to be taken by the presiding officers. The minister said that he would speak to the presiding officers, i.e., the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman, about the meeting.
The BJP said its demand for a vote is in tune with its claim that the government broke its promise to keep the decision on hold till a consensus was reached. It said the government should seek the parliament's approval for it had gone ahead with the decision unilaterally. Sources said Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram categorically rejected the demand foir voting.
The Trinamool Congress (TMC), which pulled out of the UPA in September and moved a no-trust motion against the government on November 22, mocked the opposition for not backing its move and going to the government with a 'begging bowl' demanding talks. The TMC also hinted at bringing the no-trust motion again.
The two major parties from Uttar Pradesh, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said they were not particular about the rule entailing discussio. While the BSP informally demanded that the government should bring the reservations in promotion bill, the SP said he was against such a bill and would disrupt parliamentary proceedings once the bill was brought. Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, on the other hand, said the issue should be decided by the presiding officers.
The two communist parties, the CPI and CPI(M), asked the government to face the vote while a leader from the CPI camp backed the BJP's demand for vote. Nath requested the BJP and NDA to reconsider its stand after the all-party meeting ended while Sushma Swaraj, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, asked the government to rethink its position.