The government is considering the possibility of an all-party meeting to wriggle out of the controversy on the proposed bill that seeks to keep judges assets a secret, following the embarrassment it suffered in Rajya Sabha on Monday.
Confronted by a combined Opposition — which was surprisingly supported by at least two Congress MPs — an unprepared government deferred the introduction of the bill.
Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, who is at the receiving end following the unexpected fiasco, has been asked by the party to initiate talks with the Opposition to reach a consensus on the contentious issue.
“The government made a mistake of taking the Opposition for granted. It failed to judge the sense of the House before introducing a bill, which was viewed as a bid to support the judiciary’s attempt to escape transparency,” said an Opposition leader.
The bill has now been postponed till at least the winter session, by when the government managers hope to get the Opposition on board by evolving some middle path.
“Given the mood in Parliament, the government will have to make it mandatory for judges to declare their assets, but a clause could be put to prevent misuse of information by mischievous elements,” said a Congress minister.
The ruling party concedes it was a bad move to introduce a bill without proper preparation.
But having to defer the introduction of the bill wasn’t the only embarrassing feature in a week of legislative setbacks for the Congress-led regime.
The government may also be forced to put on hold the Land Acquisition bill and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement bill following the Trinamool Congress’s strong objection to it.
Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is against the provision that allows private players to acquire directly from farmers and land-owners 70 per cent of land needed for a project.
To add to the Congress’s discomfiture, party MPs seemed to ignore chief Sonia Gandhi’s diktat on July 30 to attend House proceedings regularly.
On Monday, there were as many as 13 absentees.