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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

‘For Article 370 move, personal calls to senior opposition leaders helped clinch majority vote’: Pralhad Joshi

Pralhad Joshi said, “This bill was brought on {August} 5th and 6th. There were so many bills like MV {motor vehicle} bill which was passed in the extended time... it was not just because of 370... Because of huge pendency, we were forced to extend.”

india Updated: Aug 09, 2019 11:40 IST
Sunetra Choudhury
Sunetra Choudhury
New Delhi
Pralhad Joshi said  floor coordination became crucial in pushing through the crucial provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir on the last two days of the session that ended on
Pralhad Joshi said floor coordination became crucial in pushing through the crucial provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir on the last two days of the session that ended on (ANI Photo)
         

Pralhad Joshi, the minister of parliamentary affairs, speaks in an interview with Sunetra Choudhury about the first session of Parliament in the second term of the Narendra Modi government, during which a record 30bills were passed. Joshi said floor coordination became crucial in pushing through the crucial provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir on the last two days of the session that ended on August 6. Edited excerpts:

You had a productive Lok Sabha session with a record number of bills being passed. To what would you attribute that?

We tried to talk to all parties including the main opposition party. In some cases, they got convinced, in some they weren’t, like in the Triple Talaq and the RTI {Right to Information} bill. Other than the Congress and the TMC, a majority of the parties who had thought of opposing bills relented after we met and convinced them. like the BJD {Biju Janata Dal} and TRS {Telangana Rashtra Samithi}... It was PM’s direction to have “sabka vishwas” {everyone’s trust} and he used to guide me particularly, on a day-to-day basis. He would tell me, “Go meet Adhir {Ranjan Chowdhary of Congress},” “Go meet (TR) Baalu {of DMK}.” Even Amit Bhai {home minister Amit Shah} would speak to me about it.

Article 370’s effective revocation was the big highlight of the session. Was the session extended for this only?

This bill was brought on {August} 5th and 6th. There were so many bills like MV {motor vehicle} bill which was passed in the extended time... it was not just because of 370... Because of huge pendency, we were forced to extend.

You said that the PM and Amit Bhai would brief you every day. What was your brief on Art 370?

I was told on 2nd August by Amit Bhai that an important bill was coming. We didn’t know what it was exactly. We were told, “You have to be prepared, we need to pass this, and we may introduce it in Rajya Sabha.” On the 2nd itself, we started talking to concerned people that important bills are coming... On the 5th morning (day the bill was introduced after a cabinet meeting), Amit bhai had a talk with BJD chief Naveen Patnaik and TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao and even with Mr Chandrababu Naidu {of Telugu Desam Party}. They said we will support. I also had a chat with the BSP’s {Bahujan Samaj Party’s} Satish Chandra Mishra and he said we will support it.

Is it true that you had a war room ready in Parliament?

I can’t call it a war room but Amit Bhai used to call us to his room and tell us on a need-to-know basis and we used to work on that. Assignments were given to some ministers and they would accordingly act. We used to sit in his room.

You started off by visiting all opposition leaders, even {United Progressive Alliance chairperson} Sonia Gandhi. Do you think the relationship is as amicable at the end of the session or bitter?

Except in one or two bills , it was amicable . You have seen 370 and Triple Talaq, they didn’t agree despite our efforts to convince them... We have a good rapport with Congress and TMC people. After the sine die( session’s end), we had a word with Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Derek O’Brien and Ram Gopal Yadav and it was sober.

But sir , wasn’t it a shortcut to not send bills to a select panel?

How many bills in their first session after winning did they send to select committee in their regime? They should answer that. Some bills, even after scrutiny, were not passed. Some bills, like surrogacy, we are sending to standing panel... Enactment of law is our duty and we are doing it in the most democratic way.

There is speculation that there won’t be a winter session of parliament because you have passed all bills?

There will be a session in winter, maybe in November. I am assuring you that it will be there. We have another 6-7 bills that remain. NID {National Institute of Design} bill, dam safety bill, and river water tribunal is there.

What about the Leader of the opposition post going to the Congress?

They have not asked and we have not decided.