Dalit scholar suicide casts long shadow over labour reforms bills

  • Brajesh Kumar and Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2016 01:01 IST
Students staging a protest against the suicide of a Dalit scholar in a Hyderabad Central University, in Mumbai. (PTI Photo)

The NDA government’s plan to push through crucial labour reforms legislations in the budget session of Parliament is likely to hit a roadblock with daggers drawn between the ruling alliance and opposition parties over the suicide of a Dalit scholar.

With the ambitious land reforms and GST bills struck in Parliament due to continued stonewalling by the Congress-led opposition, the fresh crisis could seriously dent the government’s efforts to introduce rules for ease of doing business.

Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya is at the centre of the storm with opposition parties demanding his sacking for his alleged interference in the University of Hyderabad affairs, which they say drove Rohith Vemalu to suicide.

Some of the proposed legislations the BJP is hopeful of passing in the budget session include the Small Factories Bill, Code on Industrial Relations and Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012.

While the small factories bill proposes to keep units employing less than 40 workers out of the purview of 14 labour laws, including the Employees Provident Fund Act, the Employees State Insurance Act and the Industrial Dispute Act, the code on industrial relations will make it easier for companies to sack up to 300 employees without the government’s permission. These initiatives are unlikely to see light of the day in the budget session in the face of opposition fire.

Congress leaders have already said the party will not let up the pressure until Dattatreya is sacked over the suicide. With the government mounting a fierce defence of Dattatreya, it was unlikely that the axe will fall on Dattatreya on this issue.

And this stalemate could prove fatal for the government’s ambitious Make in India programme, the foundations of which is expected to be built on the successful passage of the labour reforms bills.

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