Monday, August 30, 2010


30 Aug 2010



From Our Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: An embarrassed government dropped the Enemy Property Bill listed for debate and passage in the Lok Sabha on Monday as it found itself falling between two stools and preferred to let the related Ordinance lapse.This is the result of  massive differences of opinion on this bill between Chidambaram and Salman Khursheed. That has come too open in the parliament today.

On one side was the main opposition Bhartiya Janata Party ready to support the original bill based on the ordinance that sought to evict unauthorised occupants of the evacuees' properties, but not the official amendments surfacing in the morning, while the other opposition parties led by Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav refused to go with the amendments claimed to protect the poor Muslims living in such properties.

The House was adjourned for two hours, following a pandemonium and both sides rushing into the House Well and just as the Bill came up for a discussion in the afternoon, Home Minister P Chidambaram sprang a surprise by declaring that he was not pursuing it and will bring a fresh Bill, incorporating amendments the government proposed, only in the next session of Parliament.

Since the Constitution mandates lapse of any Ordinance promulgated by the government unless replaced by a Bill in the immediate next Parliament session, Chidambaram said whatever legal steps necessary will be taken. He justified withdrawal of the Bill on the ground that many members wanted time to study the amendments and he found the request "reasonable."

In yet another development, the government also deferred discussion and passage of two Bills for changing the name of state of Orissa as Odisha, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal claiming that the step was taken on request of some MPs from the state. These Bill too will come in the next winter session now.

Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj saw a mischief in the government backing out on the enemy property bill as she suspected that a new ordinance incorporating the amendments her party objected will be promulgated after the session is over, making it a fait accompany. She wanted the Bill, alongwith the official amendments, sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee to examine it instead of attempting another ordinance.

Chidambaram refused to oblige, stating that he has taken note of the Opposition leader. It was at this stage that BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani jumped to his feet to back Sushma Swaraj, asserting that the Ordinance would lapse and the government would bring another to ensure that the Bill whenever brought does not go to the standing committee for scrutiny.

An unyielding Chidambaram said the BJP stalwart was unnecessarily harbouring suspicion as it is not unusual for the government to undertake consultations whenever any legislation comes under criticism.

MINISTER APOLOGISES: Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had to tender apology to the House as Sushma Swaraj objected to the impropriety of standing with his back towards the Chair while trying to persuade Mulayam to stop the protest he was leading against the Bill. He had rushed to the desks of Mulayam and Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Lalu Prasad to explain to them that their concerns have been already addressed in the official amendments circulated in the morning.

Sushma's stand was that the minister can not engage in consultations with members when the House is in session and that he could have taken them out instead of standing with his back towards the Chair.

The issue was raked up again by the BJP's Ananth Kumar when the House re-assembled after a 2-hour break when a score of members, including Lalu Prasad, Sharad Yadav and H D Deve Gowda, tried to defend Bansal, stressing that there was nothing wrong on the Parliamentary Affairs Minister walking to the desks of the Opposition for consultations.

Bansal, however, conceded that he had done a little impropriety of standing with his back towards the Chair because there was no space to sit with the members he approached performing his duty
and hence he would like to apologise as he holds the Parliamentary traditions in the highest esteem and would not do anything that defies them.

He, however, had a dig at the Opposition that he need not leave his seat to rush to them time and again if they too uphold the rules and do not obstruct the House through slogans and rush to the House well.


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