Mamata has her way, govt defers Land Acquisition Bill

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 8 2009, 03:50am hrs
Facing acute embarrassment for inept floor management in Parliament, the ruling coalition on Thursday decided not to take any more chances and deferred introduction of the controversial Land Acquisition (Amendment) and Rehabilitation and Resettlement bills, opposed vociferously by its largest alliance partner, Trinamool Congress.

The decision to drop the bills was taken following a late night meeting that Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had with the UPAs chief troubleshooter and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, where she is understood to have made it clear that she would not let the introduction of the bills be a smooth affair. The UPA leadership, already under fire for poor coordination in Parliament, decided on Thursday morning to avoid any more controversies that would show the ruling coalition in poor light.

The lack of coordination in the treasury benches was underscored once again this afternoon when the government was forced to defer moving the Rubber (Amendment) Bill for consideration in the Lok Sabha after Opposition benches strongly protested the absence of both the commerce minister as well as his junior minister, who were supposed to steer the legislation.

Objecting to minister of state in the PMO, Prithviraj Chavan moving the Bill for consideration and passage, deputy leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj demanded to know why commerce minister Anand Sharma or his deputy Jyotiraditya Scindia, were not present. You are setting a wrong precedent, she charged.

Todays instance was the second time in this session when the ruling coalition was forced to drop government business. Last week, it had to defer introduction of the Judges Assets Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the wake of strong objections not only from the entire Opposition but even from some Congress members, to critical clauses in the legislation. The embarrassing situation not only exposed the chinks within but also showed that the ministries which were steering the bills had not done enough homework.

Attendance of treasury bench members during discussions has also been thin, notwithstanding UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi mentioning it in her address to the CPP last week.