The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Offices of profit unite competitors
- Consensus of convenience: BJP to oppose bill after protecting interests

New Delhi, May 15: The Congress-led government has extended the notion of “participatory democracy” to sharing profits not just with allies but with rival BJP as well.

The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2006 ' that seeks to exclude 46 posts from the category of offices of profit ' can be loosely described as a collection of “wish lists” from the CPM, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and the BJP.

If anyone has been left out, not to worry. Any proposal for the list made by any party on the floor of the House will be considered. “We would seriously consider all such proposals,” parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi said.

The National Advisory Council, from which Sonia Gandhi resigned as chairperson while also quitting her MP’s post, is on the list seeking exemption from being an “office of profit”.

The entire controversy, including her resignation, looks somewhat superfluous now. She is likely to rejoin the council.

Das Munshi said the bill would be introduced in the Lok Sabha tomorrow. He seemed fairly confident it would have “smooth passage”, a hint that backroom parleys with other parties have largely been successful.

The BJP-led group will officially oppose it but Nitish Kumar, the Bihar chief minister and frontline leader of the National Democratic Alliance, has requested that the office of the parliamentary secretary ' at the central and state level ' be exempted.

“The government is seriously considering his proposal,” a cabinet minister said.

The BJP has also made a number of suggestions to place several trusts and registered societies on the list despite the high moral ground it has taken.

The party has been saying it would oppose the move to amend the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959, as it amounts to a dilution of Article 102 that defines independence of the legislature.

But the government contends there is no dilution of the article because a constitution amendment bill is not being introduced.

Only the list of offices that should not be considered “offices of profit” would be expanded.

Even if the NDA opposes the bill on the floor, it will pass.

To avoid conflict, the Centre has put the All- India Council for Sports on the list.

The BJP’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, is its chairman.

Other offices on the list are the Uttar Pradesh Development Council and the Irrigation and Flood Control Commission, UP.

These have reportedly been included on Samajwadi request.

On the Left’s suggestion, at least 16 institutions from Bengal are on the list, including the Sriniketan-Shantiniketan Development Authority of which Somnath Chatterjee is chairman.

Congress MP Subbirami Reddy’s request to include the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam Board has been met.

So has the RJD’s to include the Bihar State Religious Trust Board.

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