Chopper deal, Kurien controversy to dominate Parliament
An all-party meeting saw the Left parties seeking suspension of Question Hour in the Upper House on Friday to discuss the Kurien issue.
New Delhi: The VVIP chopper deal and PJ Kurien controversy are expected to dominate proceedings in Parliament on Friday, practically the first working day of the budget session after the President's address on Thursday.
The Opposition is united in plans to flag the Italian chopper deal issue in both Houses on Friday but disruption is unlikely with the government already making it clear that it was ready for any kind of inquiry. A debate on the issue will be held under a rule that does not entail voting but most likely after the presentation of the general budget on February 28.
While the Opposition is raring to raise the chopper deal issue, Left parties are firm on raking up the demand for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson PJ Kurien's resignation in the wake of fresh revelations in the Suryanelli rape case.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath will be making a statement in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow on the Kurien issue. Nath is already on record expressing himself against debating a matter related to state politics in Parliament.
An all-party meeting convened by Nath saw the Left parties seeking suspension of Question Hour in the Upper House on Friday to discuss the Kurien issue.
However, in the Business Advisory Committee meeting of the Rajya Sabha, SP and other parties opposed the demand of Left parties to bring up the Kurien issue in the House.
Question Hour in the Lok Sabha is also likely to be disrupted with Left parties planning to move an Adjournment Motion to discuss the strike by the bank employees.
During the all-party meeting, government proposed to the Opposition that the pending Bills on which there is near unanimity should be passed after a discussion in the House. But this was opposed by BJP which said the convention should not be breached and these Bills should go to respective Standing Committees.
A debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his Address will be held in the Lok Sabha on February 27 and March 4. The House will have a discussion on February 26 on the drought situation in some parts of the country and the damage caused by hailstorm to standing crops in some areas.
This discussion will be held in the second half after presentation of the Railway budget. The all-party meeting today was convened by Nath to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament and manage passage of several pending Bills.
The three-month long session has a heavy legislative agenda, including getting Parliament nod to three ordinances, introduction of as many as 16 bills, and consideration and passage of 35 bills.
These include the national food security bill, the criminal law amendment bill, reservation for SC/STs in promotion bill and a bill aimed at prevention and prohibition of sexual harassment of women at work place.
Besides, 13 items are related to financial business, including discussions on General and Railway budgets, and budget for Jharkhand which is under President's rule.
The enactment of key legislations like strengthening of anti-rape laws, land acquisition bill and Lokpal bill are likely to be delayed.
Asked about new allegations in the chopper scam and reports on Abhishek Verma's alleged involvement, Congress spokesperson P C Chacko said that the defence minister has already made it clear that action will be taken against whoever is involved.
"This is the most transparent and bold statement any Government can make..., Can any Government act merely on the basis on any news report. To act on a report, we have to have authentic information....
"I do not think anything more any Government can do. When nothing is coming out on what basis can the Government act. That is why the government ordered a CBI inquiry," Chacko said responding to a number of questions on the issue.
He said that it is still to be proved whether the individuals being named are involved or not. "Untill something comes out in the probe, how can we say somebody is involved or not," the Congress spokesperson asked.
Chacko also pointed out that the government has introduced measures to bring transparency in defence purchases and there is an integrity clause for big deals.