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First day of Parliament today after elections, govt looks to push key bills

The session, which will conclude on July 26, will see the tabling of the triple talaq bill and a legislation to allow the voluntary use of Aadhaar as an identity proof for opening bank accounts and getting mobile phone connections. .

india Updated: Jun 17, 2019 09:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Parliament,Budget session,All-party meeting
The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha will begin on Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitching for consensus among all political parties to push crucial legislations. (Sonu Mehta/HT File PHOTO)

The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha will begin on Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitching for consensus among all political parties to push crucial legislations, including a bill that seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among Muslims.

Addressing an all-party meeting about a month after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) secured an impressive mandate in this summer’s general election, Modi told floor leaders of various political parties to keep their differences aside to avoid disruptions in proceedings.

“We are for the people... We cannot win hearts by disrupting the functioning of Parliament. All parties must keep political differences aside and commit themselves to tirelessly work in the direction of nation’s progress,” the Prime Minister said while chairing the meeting at the Parliament complex ahead of the Budget session. All-party meetings are traditionally held before the Parliament sits to ensure smooth proceedings.

The session, which will conclude on July 26, will see the tabling of the triple talaq bill and a legislation to allow the voluntary use of Aadhaar as an identity proof for opening bank accounts and getting mobile phone connections.

The Union Budget will be presented on July 5.

The fresh bill to ban instant triple talaq will be introduced in Parliament to replace an ordinance issued in February. Under the proposed law, instant triple talaq will be illegal and attract a jail term of three years. The previous bill lapsed as it was passed in the Lower House but could not be cleared in the Rajya Sabha.

The first two days of the Budget session will be devoted to oath-taking by members of the 17th Lok Sabha, administered by pro tem speaker Virendra Kumar. The election for the Speaker of the Lok Sabha will be held on June 19 followed by a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament on June 20, when President Ram Nath Kovind will deliver an address.

The BJP has not yet announced the name of its candidate for the Speaker’s post, but people aware of the developments said that pro tem Speaker Kumar could be among the probables. Among other names that the party is understood to have considered are former Union ministers Radha Mohan Singh and SS Ahluwalia, Lok Sabha MPs from Bihar and West Bengal, respectively. Another name doing the rounds is that of former Union minister Maneka Gandhi.

The other legislations to be tabled include the Indian Medical Council (Amendment Bill), 2019 and the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill. The government is expected to push laws to replace about 10 ordinances or executive orders during the session.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has a majority of 353 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. But the government is dependent on the Opposition for legislative support in the Rajya Sabha, where it lacks a majority.

At Sunday’s all-party meet, opposition parties raised the issues of unemployment, farm distress, drought, and press freedom, while also calling for the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections to be held at the earliest. The Congress, which won 52 seats in the national elections, said it was still a “fight of ideologies” with the NDA government.

Those who attended the meeting included defence minister Rajnath Singh, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien.

“We congratulated the government. But with that we also told them that this is a fight of ideologies, it was a fight of ideologies and it will remain a fight of ideologies,” Azad said after the meeting.

Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said the Prime Minister urged leaders of all parties to “introspect whether members of Parliament are able to fulfil people’s aspirations as their representatives and the manner in which last two years of the 16th Lok Sabha were wasted”.

Joshi said the session will provide 30 sittings spread over 40 days in the Lok Sabha and 27 sittings spread over 37 days in the Rajya Sabha. Forty-six bills lapsed on the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. Some of these important bills are likely to be revived and brought before Parliament, he added.

Shortly after the meeting, Modi tweeted: “We assure our fellow Indians that we will be at the forefront of pro-people governance & facilitating legislation that manifests the spirit of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas.’”

The BJP also held its parliamentary party meet and members of the NDA met at a separate gathering ahead of the first session of the new Lok Sabha.

The fresh bill to ban triple talaq was among other such legislations the Union Cabinet approved on Wednesday last week. However, there was no word on whether the government will table the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The bill seeks to make it easier for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to get Indian citizenship. It triggered protests in the north-east ahead of the April-May Lok Sabha elections, with indigenous groups saying the bill will encourage more migrations from Bangladesh while an exercise is underway to identify and deport undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants.

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha in January, but it lapsed as the government was unable to push it through the Upper House. Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the bill during campaigning in the region and said the BJP was committed to passing it once the NDA returned to power.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: Jun 16, 2019 13:25 IST