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Parliament logjam: High on bills agenda, UPA 2 pulled down by scam charges and disruptions

Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 29, 2013
First Published: 00:10 IST(29/4/2013) | Last Updated: 19:08 IST(29/4/2013)

As the country enters the election year, the UPA government has its task cut out in the form of legislative commitments which are looking increasingly difficult to fulfil.

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As many as 115 bills (excluding the finance bill) are pending before Parliament. Among these are the land acquisition and food security bills that for obvious reasons are high on the Congress-led coalition's social agenda in a poll year.

Ninety-three of the bills have been brought during UPA 2, which has found itself up against corruption allegations and coalition obligations - both inside and outside Parliament.

With 2G and coal block allocation scams holding up Parliament, government managers fear the second part of the budget session, with nine days remaining, will be a washout.

In fact, the 15th Lok Sabha, which enters its fifth and final year in May, will go down as the most disrupted House in more than 60 years of parliamentary history.

In its earlier avatar, when the coalition had more partners, the UPA did better in terms of the bills passed. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/4/28_04_13-metro01new.jpg

The UPA 1 managed to pass 173 legislations, including the landmark right to information, right to work and right to education bills. In contrast, the UPA 2 has, so far, managed to get 96 bills through.

Data accessed from PRS Legislative Research also show that 39 bills lapsed with the 14th Lok Sabha, some of which were brought back in the present term.

"We had managed BJP's consent to the land bill and were to reach an agreement on food bill, but the charged up atmosphere now spells trouble for the bills," a minister said.

The national auditors reports on 2G, commonwealth games, coal block allocation, farm-loan waiver, which faulted the Manmohan Singh government's performance, and issues such as corruption, price-rise and FDI disrupted Parliament like never before.

If the present session draws a blank, the government will then have two sessions -- monsoon and winter that together make for 40 days -- for doing legislative business.

Parliament will have to work each of the 40 days and pass almost three bills a day to clear the backlog.

"The bills are as much the Opposition's business as they are of the government. Leave aside passing, the disruptions are obstructing a debate... on these bills," railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, formerly in-charge of parliamentary affairs, told HT.

"They are in the government for the precise reason of the majority they enjoy. Who then could stop passing of these bills? It is nothing but the government seeking an alibi for its inaction," BJP MP and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said.


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