UPA-II breaks promise: Delivers only 1 of 13 Bills

The Indian Express, August 29, 2012

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has scored a dubious record in its second term in office. The party has got just one key Bill enacted since it was re-elected to power in May 2009, despite coming back with a stronger majority and free from its erstwhile Left allies.

Though it promised to enact 13 key Bills, the only major legislation by UPA-II is the Right to Education Act. This too was enacted back in August 2009 at the start of the Fifteenth Lok Sabha.

“There may be different reasons for the delay in enacting these Bills, such as a lack of consensus within the Congress party itself or among its allies. A lack of support from the Opposition also sometimes hampers legislations in the Rajya Sabha as the UPA does not have a majority. But at the end of the day, it is the government itself that had prepared the agenda of these 13 Bills,” said MR Madhavan of PRS Legislative Research.

Other legislations passed over the course of the last three years include an Act for setting up National Green Tribunal, amendments to the Copyright Act as well as the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill to name a few. But compare this to former President Pratibha Patil’s inaugural address to the Fifteenth Lok Sabha, where she had underlined UPA-II’s agenda, listing out 13 Bills that the government would work on. Of these, eight were later made a part of the UPA’s 100 days’ agenda.

The promised legislations include amendments to the Land Acquisition Act and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, the Women’s Reservation Bill for one-third reservation for women in state legislatures, another Bill for increasing reservation of women in panchayats to 50 per cent from the current 33 per cent, the National Food Security Act as well as the Communal Violence Bill.

It was also expected that the government would move ahead with financial sector Bills to increase FDI in insurance, enact pension reforms, introduce GST and the Direct Taxes Code Bill as well as the Companies’ Bill. While Trinamool Congress — UPA’s second largest constituent — has proved to be the new Left and blocked pension and insurance reforms, others like Constitutional reforms for GST and the DTC Bill are pending with Parliament.

“Commonly, people argue that coalition politics has forced the government to go slow on reforms. But one thing is clear that the CPI(M) was not the only problem in stalling reforms as the UPA-II has also not been able to go through with many of the proposed legislations. The policy paralysis is reflected in the political paralysis,” said Parth Shah, founder president of the Centre for Civil Society.

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