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PM meets President

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 29 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met President A P J Abdul Kalam and ''discussed matters of national importance,'' the Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesman said in a press release.

The meeting took place after the Civil Investiture ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan to confer Padma Awards, he said without giving anyother details.

The discussions, however, assume significance in the light of tomorrow's meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) which is expected to consider possible steps to overcome the crisis arising from the office-of-profit controversy.

According to political circles, no immediate decision would be taken tomorrow as the CCPA is likely to refer the issue to the relevant Parliamentary Standing Committee to come out with proposals.

There have been indications that the government is veering round to the idea of convening a Parliament session from May 10, the day it was originally to commence its second part of the Budget session, primarily to have a Bill passed to amend the enabling provisions of Article 102 which debars MPs from holding offices of profit, other than those specifically exempted posts like Ministers, Leader of Opposition, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman and Chairmen of various Parliamentary committees.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P R Dasmunsi has already consulted leaders of various political parties, including Mr L K Advani, and submitted his ''report'' to the Prime Minister.

The Left parties want immediate enactment of a law to prevent its members, including Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, from being disqualified in the light of complaints given to Dr Kalam, who has since forwarded these to the Election Commission seeking its recommendation on the issue.

The Left seems to be in a hurry as the Election Commission's recommendation is binding on the President as it had happened in the case of Samajwadi Party's Rajya Sabha member, Ms Jaya Bachchan, who was disqualified for holding an office of profit in the form of Chairperson of the UP Film Development Corporation.

Mr Chatterjee, however, today said he had no comment to make on his party's position as the ''irony'' was that ''I have hardly anything to do with my party,'' obviously referring to the fact that the post of the Speaker was apolitical.

Asked whether he had received any notice from the Commission, he said ''not yet.'' Before making its recommendations, the EC gives opportunities to the MPs concerned to explain their position through their lawyers, if necessary.


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