RJD boss Lalu Prasad probably had summed up the situation for the UPA when he said at the Thursday’s all-party meeting: “whatever you (the government) would like to do to protect the supremacy of Parliament, do it during this monsoon session. There may not be another session before the polls.”
Prasad’s comments were in the backdrop of the recent Supreme Court judgments to bar criminals from contesting elections and holding office as MPs and MLAs.
But a large section of the opposition actually see the monsoon session as effectively the UPA government’s last major opportunity to pass key bills. The winter session will coincide with the assembly elections and closer to the general elections and many opposition parties may not allow the UPA to get away with bills.
The ruling dispensation has listed 44 legislations to be passed during the session that starts from Monday. The session offers a 16-day window to the UPA to push several long-pending bills, in both social and economic sectors. The UPA managers are also looking forward to the session to end the almost two years’ ‘drought’ it faces in terms of passing key bills.
During the past six sessions or 24 months, the UPA had been able to pass just 49 bills and it sits on the record number of pending legislations (116). The last two years have not seen any significant financial reforms related bill getting the approval of the government.
The opposition on the other hand, plans to corner the government on the economic crisis and rake up the FDI issue to create a rift in the UPA.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on Sunday said it was willing to cooperate with the government on its legislative agenda in the monsoon session but the opposition should be given space to raise issues of national interest such as Uttarakhand tragedy and the Ishrat Jahan case.
After a meeting of NDA floor leaders at the residence of senior BJP leader LK Advani, BJP's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said if legislation is crucial for the government, articulation of issues of national interest was vital for the opposition.
The meeting was attended by leaders of Shiv Sena, Shriomani Akali Dal and Haryana Janhit Congress.
BJP to back pensions bill in Parliament
The BJP has agreed to help the government get the pensions Bill, which would provide for up to 26 % FDI in pension fund management companies, passed in Parliament. The Bill also provides for assured returns, a point that the BJP had been pushing for.
The fact that the principal opposition would a reforms legislation passed at a time when there is talk of “policy paralysis” is politically important.
This was hammered out in a meeting finance minister P Chidambaram had with Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday.
The BJP will also support the food security Bill, but with amendments. The BJP has showcased its Chhattisgarh food security model as “ideal”, and better than that of the Centre.
While it wouldn’t risk being painted anti-poor by not supporting the Bill, the BJP would want its stamp on the bill too.