The Narendra Modi government has had two of its most productive Parliament sessions in 2018. The Winter Session saw the passage of 22 key bills with productivity of the Lok Sabha recorded at 91.58%, and that of the Rajya Sabha at 56.29%. Taking it a notch up, the Monsoon Session turned out to be the most productive since the year 2000. The session saw passage of the crucial Triple Talaq Bill and the National Commission for Backward Classes Bill in Lok Sabha. The Session provided 17 sittings spread over a period of 24 days. The productivity of Lok Sabha was 118% and that of Rajya Sabha was 68%. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar termed the session as ‘successful’ and thanked all the parties for their support.
However, a continuation of the stellar Parliament run in the Winter Session now hangs balance, thanks to the controversy over the Rafale deal.
In what appears to be a repeat of the events that unfolded after the CAG report on 2G spectrum allocation in 2010-11, Rahul Gandhi-led Congress is demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into Rafale Deal. Gandhi’s demand is likely to be backed by other Opposition parties as well. Therefore, fireworks are guaranteed in the upcoming session of Parliament.
In 2010, the Parliament had witnessed its worst Winter Session in history with Opposition, the BJP, demanding the constitution of a JPC for allowing any further proceedings in the House. This logjam spilled over into the budget session as well, and at last, the Congress-led Manmohan Singh government formed a JPC under the leadership of veteran politician PC Chako.
If this happens again, it will mean that the fate of a number of crucial bills now stands pushed in limbo. For the next session, the government is tasked to build a consensus on Triple Talaq bill, currently stuck in the Upper House; the crucial Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018; the bills related to amendments to state and UT revenues through GST; and the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
The Opposition is all set to revolt against the government full-throttle. For the government, formation of the JPC is limited to stalling of business in the Rajya Sabha. In 2011, ex-PM Manmohan Singh had to appear before the JPC, leading to embarrassment ahead of elections, this time, the BJP would not want a similar situation especially given PM Modi’s current public image.
The BJP president Nitin Gadkari at that time had clearly said the party will not any Parliamentary function before formation of the JPC, now in power, the saffron party may face a similar test.