NEW DELHI: ONE-TIME allies of the UPA, Lalu Prasad and Mulayam Singh Yadav, turned on it on Wednesday, alleging that the Congress had struck a “deal” with BJP to ensure safe passage for the Nuclear Liability bill by giving clean-chit to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the Sohrabuddin case.
Non-BJP opposition parties kept both Houses adjourned through the day as their members waved newspaper reports on CBI’s clearance to Narendra Modi in the Sohrabuddin case and BJP’s support to the Nuclear Liability bill.
Both the Congress and the BJP were pushed on the defensive after the Lalu-Mulayam combine – which played a key role in saving UPA-1 government in Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal - claimed that the ruling and the main opposition parties were one and the same, and that a deal has been struck on the nuclear bill for bailing out Narendra Modi.
Dismissing the allegations of a trade-off, the BJP claimed its acceptance of the Nuclear Liability Bill was based on the recommendations of the standing committee, which has incorporated some of the changes suggested by it. One of these was raising the liability on the operator in case of an accident, from `500 crore to `1000 crore. Attacking Lalu and Mulayam, the BJP said they were the masters in striking deals. “They have every right to talk about the deal because they are masters in striking deals. They saved the government in the Parliament. Who strikes deals is known to everyone. We have nothing to do with the Congress,” BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said.
But the new-found bonhomie between the Congress and the BJP was very much evident at Wednesday’s iftar thrown by the BJP’s Shahnawaz Hussain, and attended by PM Manmohan Singh and ministers from his Cabinet.