Govt weighs options on land bill, confident of its passage

  • Kumar Uttarm, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 01:00 IST

The NDA government is confident of winning over some naysayers by keeping its doors open to adopting a few changes they may propose to the contentious land bill that has been referred to a joint parliamentary panel, sources said.

Their support will be crucial in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks the numbers and will be equally important if a joint session of Parliament is called to clear the legislation that is pivotal for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to boost the economy, modernise infrastructure and kick-start India’s manufacturing sector.

The Biju Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party, Peoples Democratic Party, Samajwadi Party, AIADMK and Trinamool Congress — with 57 MPs in the two Houses — would be central to the government’s strategy in the event of a joint session.

“We can accept some of their suggestions, if it serves the purpose for both the sides,” a minister said. Some of these parties could also alter the numbers game in the upper House in favour of the government, if they decide to support the legislation.

To get a bill passed in a joint session comprising 786 lawmakers, the government would need the support of 394 MPs.

The BJP has 328 members in the two Houses while its pre-parliamentary poll allies have 65.

But some of these associates, like the Shiv Sena, had raised some concerns that the government plans to address through the joint committee.

Sending the bill to a joint parliamentary panel was a part of the government’s game plan to leave no room for the Opposition to sit on the bill in the Rajya Sabha and cause inordinate delays.

According to rules, the upper House can return the bill to the same joint committee just once. The Rajya Sabha will have to vote on the legislation if the panel sends it back and the government insists on its passage.

Rejection of the bill will open options for the government to call a joint sitting of the two Houses immediately after the monsoon session of Parliament that is likely to commence in the third week of July.

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