February 23, 2015 12:20:00 am
Having first gone ahead with the promulgation of a string of ordinances ignoring Opposition protests, the government got into a conciliatory mode Sunday for pushing them through the legislative process by overcoming the Rajya Sabha roadblock. The Budget Session will get underway Monday with the Presidential address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi in an effort to get her support to replace ordinances with legislation. The Congress is the single-largest group in the Upper House. “It was a cordial meeting,” Naidu said afterwards. He admitted that Sonia expressed her concerns vis-a-vis the land acquisition ordinance. Obviously, Naidu failed to get any reassuring response from the Congress chief.
What Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad stated at an all-party meeting convened by the government left no room for doubt about the Congress course. “We will not support those ordinances and bills, which do not help people,” he said.
BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said it was a Budget Session, “but there had been an undue focus on ordinances in the media”. “It (the focus) should have been on the budget and economic issues,” he added.
NCP president Sharad Pawar and former speaker P A Sangma too underlined that it was a Budget Session and therefore, they argued, it must run. However, there was no such call forthcoming from Azad, who has been recently re-elected to the House from Jammu and Kashmir. “We will decide our strategy every morning,” Azad told the meeting.
Mohd Salim of the CPM went a step further. “The temperature inside must match the temperature outside,” he said, implying that the government could not expect a smooth sailing inside Parliament when various parties and organisations were on the road protesting against the ordinances.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, another vocal critic of ordinances, particularly those related to the acquisition of land, FDI in insurance sector and allocation of coal and mines, said, “It will be a fight to the finish.”
Referring to the issue of land acquisition, Naidu said many state governments, across party-lines, had pointed out that they faced difficulties in acquiring land under the provisions of the Act of 2013. He said, “Based on this feedback, the government only wants to facilitate a timely acquisition of land and that too for the development of infrastructure or say, affordable housing.” He said the new measure had not changed any provision of the 2013 Act dealing with the payment of compensation to farmers or their rehabilitation. The Opposition, he agreed, had a right to articulate its concerns and the government was duty-bound to address them. “Parliament is the right forum for bridging such differences between the Opposition and the government and to find a way forward,” he said. Land, he acknowledged, was an emotional matter for the peasantry. Therefore, there was a need for addressing it sincerely, but without an undue politicisation, keeping in view the issue of development.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge listed several issues which his party wished to raise during the session.
Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena said swine flu had acquired alarming proportions in the country and Parliament needed to deliberate on the issue.
PM Narendra Modi, who attended the meeting, said people looked up to the Budget Session with a lot of hope. He called upon floor leaders of parties to collectively ensure proper utilisation of time so that “the session runs smoothly and we can work for the realisation of hopes and aspirations of people”.
Naidu said the government was prepared to sit with opposition to resolve differences on any issue.
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