Modi govt may knock on Cong chief Sonia's door for help on tricky bills

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 19, 2015 00:38 IST

Leaders in the ruling coalition are considering approaching Congress president Sonia Gandhi to help move fresh bills to replace ordinances that the government had pushed in the face of stiff opposition.

The government has sought to introduce in the budget session of Parliament a new bill to do away with the ordinance that ratified a crucial insurance law, though a proposed legislation from the winter session was pending in the Rajya Sabha.

All these ordinances will lapse on April 5 when the 42-day window of passing them in Parliament will end.

The government has been in a fix because it cannot withdraw the existing bill from the Upper House without the Opposition’s consent since any introduction or withdrawal of bills could be done by adopting a motion through votes.

The NDA has just 64 MPs in the 243-member Rajya Sabha and the Opposition has the numbers to vote against the government’s attempt to withdraw the previous bill.

“The Opposition should act responsibly because they are under people’s scrutiny too,” a government source said.

Support from the Congress would help the NDA cobble up the required numbers in the Upper House to pass bill.

The Congress chief’s cooperation is crucial at this juncture because of the Opposition’s belligerent stand on key ordinances such as the ones on insurance, coal block allocation and land law amendments.

“When she takes the final call, what is the point talking only to other leaders?” asked a source.

The decision to knock on Gandhi’s doors would be taken at the highest level of the government.

“If the Prime Minister gives the green light to the plan, one or two senior ministers will try to meet Gandhi,” the source said.

In that case it would be the first instance of the NDA directly negotiating with the Congress chief on parliamentary business.

The NDA has opened a channel with a Rajya Sabha member, who is a key aide of Gandhi. At least two meetings have happened over the past few weeks between the two sides, sources said.

They said the government negotiated with two senior Congress leaders to let Parliament function for a few days during the winter session but failed as Gandhi wanted her party members to continue with the protests over BJP ministers’ communal remarks.

Government managers were of the view that even if the plan fails this time around, the Centre would be in a position to tell the people it made all efforts to push key bills.

Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has alleged that the coal ordinance aims to “protect corrupt politicians and bureaucrats”. The AAP doesn’t have a presence in the Rajya Sabha but the party’s objection holds weight following its routing victory in the Delhi polls.

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