The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has rejected the opposition parties’ plea to defer the second half of the budget session of Parliament in view of the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Puducherry.
While elections in Assam —where the BJP is believed to have the biggest stake — will be over on April 11, poll campaigns will be in full swing in other states when Parliament reassembles after recess on April 25.
The central government’s refusal has drawn sharp reactions from opposition parties, which see in it a plan to push contentious bills through the Rajya Sabha when the opposition members may not be in full strength due to their preoccupation with the election campaign.
The second phase of the Parliament session is scheduled from April 25 to May 13.
Polling is scheduled in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on May 16, while West Bengal will have six-phase elections from April 4 to May 5.
Opposition parties smell a rat in the government’s refusal to accommodate the budget session dates as they believe that the BJP, as compared to the Congress, the Left and the Dravidian parties, does not have much at stake in these states.
Incidentally, these are the parties, which are vehemently opposed to the passage of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill to enable the rollout of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
“The government is not ready to accommodate our demand because it feels that the absence of our MPs will facilitate the passage of the GST bill,” said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told Hindustan Times.
On Monday, the government also rejected the Opposition’s demand to extend the first part of the budget session till March 18, to have proper debates on the budget, Aadhar and Enemy Property bills in the Rajya Sabha. With just two days left, the Upper House is hard-pressed for time.
Even if the Rajya Sabha does not complete the debate on the budget and the Aadhar bill, the government has no reasons to worry.
Even if the Upper House fails to return them within 14 days, they would be deemed to be passed by it.
“We had asked the government to extend the first half of the budget session by two days if it wants to pass some bills but they have rejected our offer,” leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi, Azad said.