New Delhi: With help from the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and ally Trinamool Congress, the government Tuesday defeated the opposition backed amendments on the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in the Rajya Sabha despite lacking majority in the House.
While members of the SP and BSP voted with the government, Trinamool Congress MPs, a party vocal in its opposition to NCTC in its present form, were not present in the house during voting.
The amendments were pressed by the Opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured members of the upper house in his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the president’s address that efforts would be made to evolve a consensus on the anti-terror hub.
Chief Ministers would be consulted on NCTC, he reiterated.
But soon after the Prime Minister’s reply, Opposition members were on their feet, demanding an assurance that the Government would proceed with the NCTC only with the consent of the Chief Ministers.
BJP and Left leaders indicated they may not press their amendments to the president’s speech, on March 12 to joint houses of parliament, if such an assurance came from the Prime minister.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal told the opposition that the prime minister had already said that chief ministers would be consulted and there would be no infringement of the federal structure.
With the opposition parties not withdrawing their amendments despite assurances from the government, Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan called for division.
The Government seemed to pass through some anxious moments before the deputy chairman announced that 82 members had voted in favour of the amendments on the proposed anti-terror hub and 105 against them.
Trinamool Congress is a constituent of ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) while SP and BSP support it from outside.
After the result was announced, BJP, Left and Biju Janata Dal MPs walked out protesting against the government not giving assurances on their demands concerning the NCTC.
Earlier, Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley (BJP) sought an assurance from prime minister that the entry of central forces working under NCTC would not happen “without the consent or knowledge of States”.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the prime minister should promise that the government will proceed with the NCTC only after taking chief ministers on board and “with their agreement”.
While the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday adopted the motion of thanks to the President’s address, the Lok Sabha had done the same on Monday.