The Manmohan Singh government, that has missed many of its deadlines to tame inflation, appeared determined on Thursday not to yield to an Opposition demand for a parliamentary debate on the issue in a format that also entails voting.
The government’s reluctance was already evident during the day as both Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari rejected the Opposition demand.
The ruling of the presiding officers on the Opposition demand hardly helped to overcome the three-day old stand-off in Parliament. Indeed, with the main Opposition party BJP and the Left working in tandem on the price rise issue, there is little hope for ending the impasse on Friday as well.
The unity was first evident early this month when they came together for the July 5 Bharat bundh.
The ruling party managers were yet to open dialogue with the Opposition to get the monsoon session going. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi is yet to attend the session though there is a party whip to its members to be present in the session. Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav led the offensive on the issue on Thursday.
But Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal flatly rejected their demand for any discussion that involves voting.
The efforts by the two presiding officers of the two Houses over the past three days to end the impasse went in vain.
The stand-off, ironically, raged at the time when the inflation rate, particularly, the food inflation eased to some extent for the second successive week. The food inflation fell to single digit at 9.67 per cent for the first time this year, bringing relief to the government outside Parliament but little relief in the two Houses.
The BJP intensified its campaign outside Parliament. A delegation of party leaders marched to the Rashtrapati Bhavan during the day and presented a memorandum against price rise to President Pratibha Patil.
The party charged the UPA-led government with failing to fulfill its post-election promise of controlling prices within 100 days in office.
Party president Nitin Gadkari, parliamentary party chairman L K Advani, Swaraj and her Rajya Sabha counterpart Arun Jaitley led the delegation.
“Food grains worth Rs 58,000 crore are rotting because of the failure of the government to arrange adequate storage facilities,” Gadkari said.
Through the memorandum, the party demanded removal of food articles from commodities exchange forward trading list, creation of buffer stock and storage plan for next 25 years.
The memorandum quoted the Planning Commission to state that 90 per cent of the people in the country were earning a daily income of less than Rs 100, while 51 per cent earned less than Rs 20 a day.
DH News Service