Another tussle on the cards
February 19, 2015
Faced with the
unenviable task of persuading recalcitrant Opposition leaders to
help the government convert six ordinances into Acts of
Parliament, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah
Naidu has called an all-party meeting on Sunday. This will be
followed by a dinner hosted by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan
to drive home the same message.
Time is of the essence as the ordinances must be converted into
law in the first half of the session ending March 20 as they
have to be passed within six weeks of the opening of the session
on February 23. The second half commences only on April 20, well
after the expiry of the mandatory period.
Meanwhile, the Ministries concerned gave notices for
introduction of Bills for replacement of ordinances on Tuesday,
even as Opposition parties submitted notices opposing their
introduction, CPI leader and Rajya Sabha MP D. Raja told The
This sets the stage for another confrontation between the
government and the Opposition. But, oddly, in the wake of its
humiliating defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections last week,
the government?s parliamentary managers have yet to reach out to
Opposition leaders, whose support they need in the Rajya Sabha.
Nor have they sought to create public opinion in support of the
ordinances by communicating to a wider public.
Till the Delhi results came in, both Mr. Naidu and Union Finance
Minister Arun Jaitley had been publicly explaining why the
ordinances were important, and how they would advance the
government?s reforms agenda. This was despite President Pranab
Mukherjee last month cautioning the Modi government on its
excessive use of ordinances, in the wake of strident Opposition
criticism that this was an attempt to bypass Parliament and
indeed, even some voices of dissent within the Union Cabinet.
Mr. Jaitley both privately ? at the January 20 meeting called by
Mr. Naidu to discuss the budget session ? and publicly ? in
Davos on January 23 ? had explained that all actions taken
during the operation of the ordinances would be sustained,
especially important in the context of the Coal Mines (Special
Provisions) Second Ordinance, 2014.
Mr. Naidu and Mr. Jaitley had also, from time to time, stressed
that the government could call a joint session of Parliament to
clear the Bills that are to replace the ordinances, provided
they were passed in one house and rejected by the other.
Of the six ordinances, only the Insurance Laws (Amendment)
Ordinance, 2014, that seeks to raise the FDI cap in the sector
is with the Rajya Sabha. The others dealing with Coal, Land
Acquisition, Mines and Minerals, Citizenship and Motor Vehicles,
will be first introduced in the Lok Sabha. The government hopes
to persuade the Congress to back the Insurance Bill to clear it
in the Upper House, since it has a majority in the Lok Sabha. In
the winter session, the Congress ? though fundamentally in
agreement with the Bill ? joined forces with the rest of the
opposition, saying it would consider passing it provided the
House was in order.
Opposition sources said while the government could pass the
Bills replacing the other five ordinances in the Lok Sabha, and
then call a Joint Session after they were rejected by the Rajya
Sabha, it would have to be done one at a time. ?The President
has to call a joint session,? said CPI-M MP Sitaram Yechury,
?and I wonder after what he said last month whether he would be
willing to call five joint sessions in quick succession.? The
government has a hard time awaiting it in the budget session.
This news can also be viewed at: