The NDA government will race against time to get six ordinances approved in the Budget session of Parliament as a packed schedule effectively leaves it with just five days to deal with them.
According to the schedule, the first half of the session from February 23 to March 20 will have 20 sittings, three-quarters of which will be used for the railway and general budgets, the President’s address and its discussion, and private members’ bills.
The tight schedule has prompted BJP floor managers to resume back-channel negotiations with Opposition parties as the ruling party does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha. The six bills could not be passed in the Upper House in the last session because of the Opposition’s disruption.
“There is a need more visible informal interaction given the nature of ordinance. Informal talks have already started,” said a source.
The list of ordinances passed in the past two months include those for easing land acquisitions, allowing 49% foreign investment in the insurance sector, coal block allocations and allowing e-rickshaws in the National Capital region.
The government used the ordinance route to push through economic reforms held up by the opposition, but has come under fierce Opposition attack for bypassing parliament in law-making. President Pranab Mukherjee also cautioned the government against pushing ordinances for normal legislation.
NDA managers are negotiating with Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma and other leaders to garner support. They have also begun discussions with the Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati in a bid to cobble together the numbers to help them in Parliament.
The government is in a rush because all the ordinances are set to lapse on April 5. Moreover, the legislation will give the BJP, which has a brute majority in the Lok Sabha, a chance to show that it can take the Opposition on board on key laws.
Calling a joint session to pass the ordinances is not an easy option because that can only be done when a bill to replace an ordinance has been passed in at least one House. Most of the ordinances on the government’s plate have not been passed in one House of parliament.