After taking hasty steps to promulgate the anti-rape ordinance, the UPA government is now bracing for an action-packed first-half of the budget session.
It would need to keep its powder dry for passing anti-rape amendments to the criminal law, besides placing the two budgets and
pushing the flagship food security bill.
The first half of the budget session is likely to be held from February 21 to March 15.
Generally, the government doesn't keep a lot of legislative business for the first part of the budget session because it remains pre-occupied with constitutional requirements such as placing the railway and general budgets, and then passing the vote on accounts.
Two days are also kept aside for the debate on the President's address.
However, this time, the UPA managers will also have to work towards replacing the anti-rape ordinance with the related bill because there is a slim chance of any re-promulgation.
According to the law, an ordinance has to be replaced with a bill and get the President's assent for it within six weeks (42 days) from the start of the Parliament session.
With this timeline expiring on April 3, the government gets the first half of the budget session to do the needful as the second half is expected only from mid-April - failing which, the ordinance will lapse.
"Since both Houses are in session, the government can't re-promulgate the ordinance. If it wants to re-promulgate, it would have to pro-rogue at least one House," Lok Sabha secretary general TK Vishwanathan told HT.
With the opposition-which enjoys majority in Rajya Sabha-already divided over the ordinance, the government is unlikely to take the risk of adjourning the house mid-way.
Meanwhile, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has already directed food minister KV Thomas to bring in the long-pending food security bill during the first-half.