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Govt in no mood to face voting on price rise

Last updated: 27 July, 2010
B S Arun, New Delhi, July 27, DHNS: 0:36 IST

Oppn seeks adjournment motion

Within months of facing a litmus test of its majority during the budget session of Parliament, the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has been confronted with another trial, this time by an unrelenting Opposition seeking adjournment motion on price rise.

The UPA is in no mood to allow it, mainly because the Opposition wants the adjournment motion to be taken up under a rule that entails voting. This is a headache for the government. For, unlike the budget session, parties such as the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahaujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) are not standing on its side.

The government maintains that it is ready for discussion on any subject. While it is not saying publicly that it is not for discussion under a rule with voting at the end of the debate, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal said the decision was left to the presiding officers of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. On the one hand, the government is saying that voting has already taken place under budget cut motions in April and there is no need to test its strength again.

On the other, the BJP wants discussion under Rule 56 in the Lok Sabha and under Rule 168 in the Rajya Sabha that require voting. In the Lok Sabha, the stand of parties like SP (22 members) and RJD (four), besides backers such as the Janata Dal (Secular) with three MPs, to side with the Opposition has come as a setback to the UPA government.

The BSP (21), however, has said it does not want discussion with voting and says it would not like to be seen standing along side the BJP. (While the BSP voted with the government in the budget session, the other three parties abstained allowing the UPA to romp home).

The government does not favour voting in Parliament on the price rise issue, as parties in general are against it. It does not want a repeat of the April scenario when it had to depend on the regional satraps such as Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP), Mayawati (BSP) and Lalu Prasad (RJD) for its survival.

Some constituents of the UPA—the National Conference, DMK and Trinamool Congress— have favoured a debate on the price rise, but not under a rule which would require voting. However, unlike the money Bills, the government need not resign even if it loses the vote on the floor of the House.

In the Rajya Sabha, too, the numbers game is tricky as the government and its allies have only 89 on its side to the 104 at the opposition. In the Rajya Sabha also votes of the SP, BSP and others—with 51 MPs—will be key to its success.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) said on Tuesday that the government should agree to the adjournment motion on price rise in the Lok Sabha if it was confident of its numbers. CPM leader Basudeb Acharia wondered why the government was opposing the adjournment motion on hike in prices of petroleum products effected in June.

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