The marathon budget session of Parliament that ended on Wednesday promised a lot in the first half but lost much of its lustre after a month-long recess as the NDA government failed to push through several big-ticket reforms.
In the first part of the session which began on February 23, the government was able to pass the insurance bill, pending since 2008, and the coal and mines bills.
But important bills on real estate reforms, GST and changes to the land acquisition law got stuck in the second half as the government failed to convince the Opposition. The NDA doesn’t have the numbers to pass a bill in the Rajya Sabha without taking the Opposition on board.
The land bill, which has become the rallying point for the Congress and other opposition parties, didn’t find takers among the BJP’s main allies as well because of the so-called anti-farmer tag attached to it.
As the Opposition dug in its heels, these three bills had to be referred to parliamentary panels for review. Poor floor management, often reflected in empty seats on the ruling side, led to an amendment in the President’s speech in the Rajya Sabha after 14 years.
In another embarrassment, a private member’s bill by DMK’s Thiruchi Siva was passed in the Rajya Sabha — a first since 1970.
Amid the uproar, Parliament unanimously passed the land boundary agreement bill and the undisclosed foreign income bill, a key step to curb black money. The Narendra Modi government met its target of passing 16 bills in a session that ended just a few days before the NDA completes a year in office.
“Both Houses passed 47 bills in a year … this is the best annual performance in six years,” said parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu.