|As the Winter Session enters its last phase, productivity data of the first three weeks indicates encouraging results. The government, too, is confident of achieving its targets for the session.
But with the Trinamool Congress again on a warpath with the BJP-led Centre after the arrest of its minister Madan Mitra in West Bengal and the issue of faith conversion still fresh, it remains to be seen how much the two Houses are able to achieve in the last seven sittings, beginning tomorrow.
Despite disruptions on various accounts, PRS legislative research data shows that productivity of the Lok Sabha was 99% in the first three weeks. The Rajya Sabha, which bore the brunt of the Opposition protests due the BJP’s minority status there, also gave encouraging results of 72%. The Lok Sabha Question Hour functioned for 77% of the allotted time and the Rajya Sabha Question Hour for 32%. A total of 63 questions were orally answered in the Lower House and 35 in the Upper House.
So far, the Lok Sabha cleared 13 Bills and the Rajya Sabha nine in this session that ends on December 23. The government is hopeful that Bills cleared in this session will surpass those passed in the Budget Session this year by a “huge margin”. As Parliament enters the last phase of this session, several key legislations, including those forwarding the government’s economic reforms agenda—the Insurance and the GST Bills—are pending.
While the Insurance Bill, seeking to raise the cap on FDI in insurance from 26% to 49%, will be discussed next week, top BJP leaders say the government may also table the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in this session only. The GST Act, which needs a Constitutional amendment, is key to the Centre’s plan to roll out the GST by 2016.
Faith conversions and some recent statements by BJP members have been successfully used by Opposition leaders to corner the government, particularly in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA is in minority. Sources say Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who, after the Union Minister sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti episode, had cautioned the MPs to be careful, is upset over the way the Winter Session has been “derailed” by “unnecessary” controversies.
The Rajya Sabha lost four consecutive days in the second week of the session due to protests over Jyoti’s comments. In the third week, the Opposition was quick to catch on reports of faith conversion in Uttar Pradesh and the “eulogising” of Mahatma Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse by “right-wing organisations”.
While the BJP battled with the Congress in Parliament on a ceremony organised in Maharashtra to honour Godse, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj courted further controversy by declaring Godse “a nationalist”.