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Winter session: Last chance for key legislations
Wednesday December 4, 2013 8:21 PM, IANS

The winter session of parliament beginning Dec 5 could well be the UPA government's last chance to get its key legislations through with the Lok Sabha elections barely six months away. The opposition is expected to seek to corner the government on price rise and the JPC report on 2G spectrum allocation and problems of farmers.

A slew of pending legislations including women's reservation bill and Lokpal bill have been listed for passage. There are indications that the government will also bring a bill for creation of Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.

The opposition parties have voiced concern over the "short" duration of the session which will end Dec 20 and have asked the government to extend the session after a Christmas break.

The results of the assembly polls in five states Dec 8 are expected to find resonance in the session. The party that does well in these polls will likely be more assertive about its agenda during the session.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has asked the government to bring a bill for the creation of Telangana state during the session and also to get it passed. The party also wants passage of the Lokpal bill. It is keen on an early discussion on price rise.

Party sources said they are keen to put the government on the mat over the joint parliamentary committee on 2G spectrum allocation. The party has said that no JPC report has seen so many dissent notes. Committee chairman P. C. Chacko has given the report to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

The party wants a discussion on internal security with special reference to bomb blasts in Patna in October. The blasts occurred ahead of a BJP rally addressed by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The party has also asked for a debate on atrocities against women.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) has indicated that the Left parties would bring an adjournment motion on price rise at the beginning of the session and has sought support from opposition parties. The parties are also likely to demand a discussion on JPC on 2G spectrum.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia said the government should agree to an adjournment motion on the first day. "If it does not we will protest. The session will be stormy," Acharia told IANS.

He also said the party will raise the 'agrarian crisis' and efforts by developed countries to pressure on India at the WTO meeting in Bali on food subsidy.

"The JPC report has been an effort to save the government. The chairman did not call the prime minister and the finance minister. Fourteen members dissented. We will raise the issue," Acharia added.

The CPI has also demanded extension of the winter session, saying that the government wants to take up 38 bills but there were only 12 working days.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday urged political parties to make the best use of the time available during parliament's "short" winter session. He also said that the government was committed to the formation of Telangana state.

He sought the cooperation of all members for the smooth functioning of the two houses and said the government will do everything in its power to ensure that both the houses run without disruptions.

Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal also hoped that the opposition will cooperate with the government during the session. "We hope that the opposition will cooperate. This is one of the last sessions of the present Lok Sabha. They should be more responsible," he added.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has indicated that the government would take a decision on extending the session after wider consultations.

Apart from the Lokpal bill and the women's reservation bill, the government has also listed the insurance laws (amendment) bill and the direct taxes code bill on its agenda for the winter session.

The Congress, which has been raking up the alleged snooping on a woman by the Gujarat police, is expected to use the issue to embarrass the BJP during the session.

Major bills for consideration and passing in the winter session of parliament are:

The Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, 2011 - Replaces Atomic Energy Regulatory Board with the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority to regulate nuclear safety, activities related to nuclear material and facilities.

The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, 2011 - Seeks to confer on every citizen the right to time-bound delivery of specified goods and services, and provides a mechanism for grievance redressal.

The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008 (Women's Reservation Bill) - Provides for reservation for women in parliament and legislative assemblies.

The Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012 (Reservation in promotion to SCs and STs with retrospective effect) - Substitutes Article 16(4A) of the Constitution to provide reservation in promotion to SCs and STs with retrospective effect.

Bills listed for introduction include a constitution amendment bill to implement the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, 1974; a Protocol to the Land Boundary Agreement, and one that addresses stigma and discrimination related to HIV.

The winter session starts Dec 5 and ends Dec 20.

PRS Legislative Research


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