Triple talaq bill, OBC Commission top govt agenda for monsoon session of Parliament starting July 18
The NDA government aims to legislate the bills to criminalise instant triple talaq and to form a National Commission for Other Backward Castes in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament that will be held from July 18 to August 10.
The two controversial bills, high on the government’s agenda, set the stage for a possible confrontation between the government and the Opposition in the monsoon session. With less than a year to go before general elections, the BJP is looking at the session as an opportunity to pass key bills likely to have a major social impact, which may translate into political gains for the ruling dispensation.
“We certainly hope that the House functions. But the responsibility of running the House lies on the government. They can no longer continue with their “take it or leave it” attitude,” said Jairam Ramesh, a member of the Congress’s panel to review bills.
The government, aware that it will face a hostile Opposition, would like to put the onus of any disruption on its rivals. Government managers have pointed out that it is ready to discuss any issues, but that the House must function. The last session of Parliament, the 2018 Budget session, could work for only 21% of the allotted time in the Lok Sabha and 31% in the Rajya Sabha. The second half of the Budget session was a near washout.
In the last session, a few Opposition parties including the Left, YSR Congress Party and Telugu Desam Party had pursued a no-confidence motion against the government. According to the rule book, no confidence motions, if not admitted, expire on the same day. “If any MP wants to move a no-confidence motion, he or she has to give a fresh notice on the day he intends to push the motion,” said a Lok Sabha functionary.
Cautious to avoid a repeat show of disruptions and confrontations, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar sought cooperation from the Opposition to run the House smoothly. “Monsoon session of #Parliament to be held between 18th July- 10th August, comprising of 18 working days. I urge & seek cooperation of all opposition parties to ensure #Parliament achieves maximum productivity,” Kumar tweeted.
Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien tweeted: “Parliament dates announced. Under NDA government a drastic reduction in the number of working days. Monsoon Session ran for 26 days in 2010 & 2011, now reduced to a mere 18 days. Number of days for government business reduced by a week.This Govt never serious about Parliament.”
Apart from key social bills, a host of reformist bills such as FRDI, Code of Wages, The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill are also in the pipeline. The government may want to fast track some of them ahead of the Lok Sabha and assembly polls. Three BJP-ruled states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — will go to polls later this year.
The Opposition, however, is clear that no bills can be passed without proper debate and scrutiny. “They tried to pass the triple talaq and OBC panel bill without any review by standing committee. We didn’t allow them to do so. Our stand remains the same,” said a Trinamool Congress leader who asked not to be identified.
The Opposition parties are set to demand debates on issues such as the Kashmir situation and the impact of the GST rollout (July 1 marks the first anniversary of the roll-out) . Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet leaders of different parties a day before the session starts. “He, too, will appeal for smooth functioning of Parliament ,” said a government functionary.