An extra three days do not seem nearly enough to iron out differences on the crucial Bills pending before Parliament, but clearly the government hopes to use these days to bring a resurgent Opposition around to its point of view on some of them.
Of course, Parliament has been in a ferment over the issue of irregularities in a company in which Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari allegedly has a stake and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s objection to a food park in Amethi being shelved.
But, at least the Land Boundary Agreement Bill was passed with little pain, leading to Prime Minister Modi thanking Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Such acts of cooperation are, however, few and far between. The controversial Land Acquisition Bill is still hanging fire with opposition parties dubbing it anti-farmer.
It will take some deft footwork on the part of the government to address the opposition’s concerns while pushing through this Bill which is crucial for big infrastructure projects to get going.
A major Bill, the Goods and Services Tax Bill too, also faces a tough time ahead, though it has the potential to cut through some of India’s labyrinthine regulations which are a severe drag on the economy. A Bill which might go through is the one on black money, which has now been made a money Bill, thereby negating the possibility of the opposition blocking it in the Rajya Sabha.
The issue of black money is also a highly emotive one and no party would want to be seen to stymie legislation on this.
The Bills pending are crucial to galvanise the economy. And here the government will have to rely on those in its ranks who can engage and work with the Opposition.
The government certainly has the numbers in the Lok Sabha but its shortfall in the Rajya Sabha makes floor management very important. On occasion, the government could have displayed more sensitivity, especially when it comes to parties run by volatile leaders like the TMC’s Mamata Banerjee.
If the Land Boundary Agreement Bill is anything to go by, the government seems to be learning, albeit not fast enough, on the job. And before the next Parliament session starts, it should have in place its front line of political negotiators, for want of a better word, to take the Opposition along in pushing through crucial legislation.