Sonia taps Sushma shoulder as graft row eats Food Bill time
What was happening at the Sino-Indian border seems to be happening between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP on the floor of Lok Sabha. If Indian and Chinese troops were ranged over a piece of border land, the Congress and the BJP is battling it out over a piece of legislation - the National Food Security Bill.
While the main opposition is insisting that the removal of two ‘tainted’ ministers —Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Railway Minister Pawan Bansal — is a pre-requisite for passage of any legislation, the ruling side made virtuous noises through the day on Tuesday over the welfare legislation, stating that ‘politics can wait’ for poverty eradication.
Speaking from the government side, Information & Broadcast Minister Manish Tewari claimed that the BJP was creating hurdles in the passage of a bill “which seeks to end hunger”. The opposition party immediately retaliated, saying it would “prefer to end Congress’ hunger for ill-gotten money”, before passing the food security bill.
But as the day progressed it became evident that an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation would achieve little as the ambitious bill cannot be passed without the BJP leadership ordering its members back to their seats from the well of the lower house (where they have been demanding resignation of the two ministers). The Congress then changed tack.
“A bill can be passed with voice vote amidst the din, but if a division (voting) is asked for, then we cannot pass it. There has to be order in the house for that to happen. If disruptions continue, the bill cannot be passed this session,” a senior Congress leader admitted.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi showed the first signs of withdrawal of animosity. She personally reached out to Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
No sooner had the House been adjourned, Sonia approached Sushma in the Central Hall, putting an arm around the opposition leader’s shoulder in a clear sign of appeasement. The two were then seen walking engaged in an animated discussion, the content of which was not shared by either.