BJP’s Rajya Sabha gains can be a big booster for reforms

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New Delhi | Published: August 4, 2017 6:45:44 PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi can utilise the Bharatiya Janata Party’s position of being the largest party in the Rajya Sabha and also the strength gained from Nitish Kumar’s support to push labour, land and FDI reforms.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi can utilise the Bharatiya Janata Party’s position of being the largest party in the Rajya Sabha and also the strength gained from Nitish Kumar’s support to push labour, land and FDI reforms.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi can utilise the Bharatiya Janata Party’s position of being the largest party in the Rajya Sabha and also the strength gained from Nitish Kumar’s support to push labour, land and FDI reforms.

The swaying of political wind in the country in favour of the Bharatiy Janata Party (BJP) that started in 2014, is continuing unabated. Even the setbacks like Bihar and Delhi assembly poll losses have receded into the background with Nitish Kumar returning to its fold and the Aam Aadmi Party losing steam. After Bihar coup, BJP has now also become the largest party in the Rajya Sabha with 58 seats, and this position is only going to be strengthened from here. Even though the party is still far off from a comfortable position in the upper house because of its lack of a majority even with its partners—which can derail its plans of pushing any critical legislation—surpassing the Congress party (57) in terms of the numbers of seats is quite significant, especially in the backdrop of Kumar’s JD(U) members (9 at present) also supporting the BJP.

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In the 245-member house, the BJP now will have assured support of 102 members that includes 13 from the AIADMK. But, the opposition can still garner 123 members’ support to oppose any legislation. The NDA floor managers, therefore, will have to bank on the six independent members and also 13 other members who are not committed to either side—8 from BJD, 3 of TRS, and one each from INLD and YSR—besides co-opting parties like SP (18) and BSP (5). It can be reasonably assumed that a government which has succeeded in getting the crucial GST legislations and a number of others, through in Parliament, will not find it difficult to repeat the same for other Bills, especially when the opposition unity is in tatters after Kumar’s exit.

The most-likely election of M Venkaiah Naidu as vice-president, who will chair the upper house, will also add to the comfort level of the NDA. So, instead of waiting for a much stronger position in the Rajya Sabha, prime minister Narendra Modi will do well by pushing tough reform legislations in the critical labour, land and FDI segments. While the government is currently trying to push land and labour reforms through the states, the need is to bite the bullet at the central level by amending laws to ease labour and land acquisition norms.

In case of FDI also, it will be a good idea to take a fresh look at the multi-brand retail restrictions. PM Modi has shown in the past that he is not hesitant to take bold measures and the time may be ripe for another round of big bang reforms.

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