In a rare move the ruling coalition seemed to have reached broad agreement with the opposition on the new land acquisition law on the eve of the resumed budget session of Parliament that opens on Monday. This had given rise to the hope that the session could pass crucial pending bills on economic reforms that had been stalled for too long due to the ongoing confrontation between the treasury benches and the opposition. Unfortunately by its move to force a draft JPC report on 2G spectrum allocations exonerating Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the scam and passing the blame on his predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee government, the Congress is reversing that process and marring the shortlived spirit of bonhomie.
The government had assured foreign investors that it will try to walk the extra mile to get key financial sector and welfare-related legislations approved in the second half of the Budget session of Parliament. Apart from the land acquisition bill, the insurance and pension bills are critical for financial sector reforms. The Forward Contract Regulation Amendment Bill has been long pending. At the beginning of the Budget session, the Government had listed 16 Bills for introduction, four bills for introduction, consideration and passage and 35 bills for consideration and passage, apart from the financial business. However, in the first half, it managed to pass just two Bills — the Criminal Law Amendment and the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace — apart from mandatory Budget-related legislations.
All this business would be in jeopardy if the treasury benches persist in their attempt to cover up the failure of the prime minister to act appropriately and in proper time to prevent or to minimise the damage from the 2G scam. It still has time to undo the damage by addressing the concerns of non-Congress members of the JPC when the latter meets on April 25. Otherwise, there is a real possibility that the entire session may be washed out.