The government referred the contentious land bill to a joint parliamentary panel on Tuesday after facing stiff resistance from both the Opposition and allies, while a constitution amendment bill paving the way for the historic Goods and Services Tax (GST) was sent to a Rajya Sabha select committee.
Many opposition leaders privately made it clear that this effort to shore up support in favour of the land legislation may not yield the desired results, though the Congress has reportedly promised to support the GST bill in the next session of Parliament.
HT first reported on May 1 that the government may send the land bill to a parliamentary panel for review. The 30-member land bill committee, headed by BJP’s Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, will have 20 Lok Sabha lawmakers while the rest of the members will be from the Rajya Sabha. Sixteen of these MPs will be from the ruling NDA camp.
The upper House is expected to nominate its members on Wednesday.
“The committee shall make a report to this House by the first day of the first week of the next session,” rural development minister Birender Singh said in his proposal to constitute the panel.
JP lawmaker Bhupender Yadav will head the 21-member select panel for the GST bill that is expected to submit its report on the first day of the next session.
While Singh batted for the “benefits” of the land bill on Tuesday, even key NDA allies like Shiv Sena and Akali Dal opposed the legislation.
The government had planned to send the bill straight to the panel without any discussion, but the Opposition forced a four-hour-long debate in which Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also participated.
While the NDA is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha, if the government calls a joint session of Parliament the BJP will be 66 short of the majority mark.
With the AIADMK, BJD, Shiv Sena and Akali Dal resisting the land bill, the BJP faces an uphill task even if it manages to take the bill to a joint session.