Peace, barring some token slogans against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, is likely to return to Parliament tomorrow following the resignation of Natwar Singh from the Cabinet tonight.
Describing his resignation as ‘‘a victory for the NDA’’, BJP leader V K Malhotra said the Lok Sabha ‘‘may not be stalled tomorrow.’’ The final decision will be taken at a meeting of NDA leaders in the morning. The BJP parliamentary party meeting, usually held every Tuesday morning, is also taking place tomorrow.
The Opposition, Malhotra said, ‘‘will keep up the demand for Sonia Gandhi’s resignation as chairperson of the National Advisory Council.’’ However, aware that the demand has not acquired much public support so far, the NDA is unlikely to make a big issue of it in the coming days. It may continue to figure in press conferences but will not be used to disrupt Parliament, sources said.
The Opposition had made it clear earlier in the day that it would continue to stall Parliament until Natwar resigned. Although slogans such as ‘‘Ab to yeh spasht hai, ki Sonia Gandhi bhrasht hai’’ were raised, leaders such as Malhotra focussed on Singh rather than Sonia Gandhi.
Scoffing at reports that the former foreign minister had not resigned so far because he was waiting for the Prime Minister’s return from Moscow, Malhotra said: ‘‘If the Bihar assembly could be dissolved at midnight from Moscow, why can’t Natwar Singh’s resignation from the cabinet be accepted in Moscow?’’
He repeated the same point at the BJP press conference later in the afternoon, alluding to the fact that President Abdul Kalam had signed the order dissolving the Bihar elections in May this year while on a visit to Moscow.
Malhotra also asserted that it was not the Opposition but the government which was responsible for the prolonged disruption of Parliament over the Volcker issue. Since the scandal broke 40 days ago, the government and Congress party had changed its stance many times—first giving Natwar a clean chit, then getting him to resign as foreign minister, then removing him from the steering committee.
‘‘The government and Congress are responsible for the mess by taking action in instalments,’’ the BJP leader said.
He repeated the charge tonight after Natwar Singh finally announced his decision to quit. ‘‘If he had resigned earlier, Parliament would not have been disrupted for so long,’’ Malhotra said.