Budget session: Challenges mount for BJP-led alliance
By Prashant Sood
The BJP’s drubbing in Delhi elections is likely to cast its shadow on the legislative agenda of the NDA government with opposition parties expected to join hands against the ruling alliance on a range of issues including some ordinces that have to be replaced with bills.
The important budget session, which begins on February 23, will see a push by the government for passage of the bills that will replace six ordinces promulgated since the last sitting of parliament. The government has given varied reasons for the ordinces including the need for deepening the reform process in the economy. An ordince was also apparently aimed at Delhi elections.
An ordince must be replaced by a law within six weeks of the re-assembly of the two houses for it not to lapse.
With the ruling alliance not in a majority in the Rajya Sabha, Congress leaders said it will not be easy for the government to get some of the bills aimed at replacing ordinces passed. The party is strongly opposed to changes in the land acquisition act and has voiced its reservations on some other ordinces.
Congress MP and former union minister Rajeev Shukla said “the party will try to forge unity among opposition parties on various issues in the budget session.”
Shukla also said that the government has lost political momentum after the Delhi results. “The results show how soon the government has started facing unpopularity. People feel that promises made to them have not been fulfilled,” Shukla told IANS. The BJP’s campaign for February 7 elections in Delhi was largely centered around Prime Minister rendra Modi though former IPS officer Kiran Bedi was med chief ministerial candidate about two weeks before the polling day. The BJP could win only three of 70 seats in Delhi causing a shock in the party rank and file. The party had earlier registered good performances in Harya, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.
Biju Jata Dal leader in the Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab said that the ruling Bharatiya Jata Party will be on the back foot during the session due to poor showing in Delhi elections.
“BJP was uble to retain its support in Delhi (compared to Lok Sabha polls). It was uble to convince those who had high hopes from the BJP-led government at the Centre,” Mahtab told IANS.
Asked about the possibility of the government convening a joint session of parliament if a bill was defeated in the Rajya Sabha, Mahtab said “joint session is not an answer.” He said the government wants that its majority in Lok Sabha to be respected and should do so for Rajya Sabha where it does not have majority.
Mahtab said his party has objections to the ordince concerning mines and minerals and would see if the government addresses them in the bill.
Opposition parties have accused the government of resorting to “ordince raj” and showing authoritarian tendencies. According to PRS Legislative, which tracks work of parliament, six ordinces have been promulgated for the past about two months. These are coal mines (special provisions) second ordince, insurance laws amendment ordince, right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (amendment) ordince, the citizenship (amendment) ordince, motor vehicles (amendment) ordince and mines and mineral (development and regulation) ordince.
In remarks that were seen as a caution to the government, President Prab Mukherjee had last month said that the Constitution provided for promulgation of ordince in extraordiry situation.
The ordinces, he said, can be issued to “meet certain exigencies and under compelling circumstances”.
Communist Party of India leader D Raja said that people have conveyed their disapproval over decisions of the Modi government and also “rejected sectarian, divisive politics of BJP.”
“The government has taken ordince route on substantial policy matters whether it is land bill, FDI in insurance or coal allocation,” Raja told IANS. Raja said the government was planning to cut down on subsidies but the Delhi results will force a rethink.
He said that even if the government is able to get the ordinces passed in the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha was not likely to approve them.
Jata Dal-United leader KC Tyagi said “morale of opposition will be high” during the budget session. BJP spokesperson lin Kohli said he did not see a relation of Delhi poll results with the budget session and tiol Democratic Alliance had been given a mandate for five years. The government is expected to push for passage of bills to replace ordinces in the first half of the budget session which will continue till March 20. The second part of budget session will commence after a month-long recess from April 20 and conclude on May 8. IANS
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)