Indications are that except crucial businesses of the general and rail Budgets, the Parliament session starting Tuesday would have no other important legislative outcome and end with a whimper, as did the last session. While the government expressed its readiness to discuss all issues, including the JNU row, in an all-party meeting on Monday, the Opposition did not yield an inch. The Congress proposed that only Bills on which there was a general consensus be passed. Of course, the all-important GST Bill and bankruptcy code are not among the ones on which any consensus seem to have emerged.
“Contentious bills should not be brought. Bring only those bills on which there is a general agreement. Bills like GST will not come in the first half of the session,” leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said.
The government, however, hopes it may get support from the Trinamool Congress, which has a dozen seats in the Upper House, where the NDA is in minority, for the Constitutional Bill on GST, given that West Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra has been named the chairman of the empowered committee of state finance ministers. Yet, there were hardly any words of assurance from TMC or other major non-NDA parties like the SP, NCP, JD(U) and BSP regarding the GST Bill. Although the 245-member Rajya Sabha also consists of more than half a dozen small parties with one seat each in the RS, which are not in the Congress camp and some 15 members without formal party affiliations, the NDA would still have a long way to go before passing the half-way mark.
Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu, however, said Monday’s all-party meeting was positive and parties were in favour of running Parliament. “At a time when the government is reaching out separately to non-Congress and non-Left parties, Naidu said a number of regional parties feel they were not getting adequate time to raise their issues due to disruptions in Parliament,” Naidu said.
With the face-off between the Opposition and the ruling alliance, just 10 Bills were passed in the Winter session, at the end of which 65 bills were pending the House’s approval, including the GST and real estate Bills.
The Opposition has already sharpened its attack on the government over issues ranging from the JNU row, to the Arunachal crisis and the suicide of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula. Given the well-entrenched positions of both the government and Opposition on these issues, the Budget session is expected to be stormy, analysts said.