Whether the Congress president’s bid for a rapprochement on Tuesday would yield results will be known only on Wednesday, when the National Food Security bill is taken up again.
Though the BJP was tight-lipped about what it may do, the main Opposition party, it seems, has no disagreement “in principle” with the bill, but just wants “a few amendments” to be incorporated.
Meanwhile, the government side opened up other back channels. Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar – who incidentally has reservations on the food bill – was pressed into the government’s service to convince the Opposition.
Pawar held parleys with BJP leader Ananth Kumar who was deputed by his party to talk to him and also with CPM Parliamentary party leader Sitaram Yechury. Yechury later said, “Pawar is of the opinion that there should be a debate on the bill.”
If the main opposition party agrees, sources said, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or the Leader of House Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde can call an all-party meet to end the impasse over passage of bills. Apart from the food bill, the government is desperately trying to push through the land acquisition bill.
The government hopes, two other parallel developments may change the atmospherics of the day on Wednesday - Karnataka poll results and the Supreme Court’s view on the CBI affidavit on the coal block allocation probe, submitted on Monday.
Earlier in the day, the BJP reiterated that the government was trying to divert attention from myriad scams involving the Congress functionaries by trying forcefully to get the food security bill passed in the Lower House.
The issue figured prominently at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting and the party decided that it would agree to back the passage of the bills, after due discussions, only after the two “tainted ministers” resign as the first step.
“Yesterday, the government tried to pass the food bill amid din in Lok Sabha. We discussed the issue in the BJP Parliamentary Party and decided that the party wanted the bills to be passed butonly after a proper discussion. We will not allow any attempt to pass the key bills in haste and in the din. The whole opposition is together against passing of bills in this form. If the government shows ‘dadagiri’, then we will oppose it,” said BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde.
The party also decided to meet the Lok Sabha Speaker to ensure that no bill is passed amid din in the Lower House. “We are of the view that confrontation in Parliament is part of the democratic process,” said BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“We are not against the food bill per se, but we want Bansal and Kumar to step down before initiation of debate on the bill,” added spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.
BJP MPs continued with their storm-into-the-Well-and-protest strategy, leading to the Lower House being adjourned thrice.