NEW DELHI: In the face of stiff opposition,the government on Monday, which was the penultimate day of the ongoing Budget session of Parliament, decided to refer two of its key legislation -- GST Bill and Land Bill -- to Parliamentary Panels, as demanded by the Opposition parties.
The contentious land Bill will be referred to a Joint Committee of both the Houses of Parliament while the GST Bill is likely to be referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, the government has began consultations with all the parties, asking them to nominate a member to these Committees. The tenure of the two Panels is likely to end during the first week of the Monsoon Session, which is usually held in July-August.
The government is set to move a motion for setting up a 30-member Joint Select Committee to examine the Land Bill in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday after the discussing the issue at BJP Parliamentary Party meeting where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be present. Sources said that BJP MP from Darjeeling Surinder Singh Ahluwalia is likely to get the coveted post of the chairman of the Joint Committee.
Ahluwalia, with his long Parliamentary experience and training as a Supreme Court lawyer, is likely to handle the tricky assignment.
Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) is understood to have recommended the name of party MP Vinod Kumar to be member of the Joint Select Committee on Land Bill.
Sources also said that the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu along with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley held talks with Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and his deputy Anand Sharma to discuss the modalities of referring the GST Bill to the Select Committee.
Though the GST Bill was already passed by the Lok Sabha, the government is finding it difficult to pass the Bill in the Rajya Sabha with many political parties having made it clear that it will not be possible to support it without referring the Bill to a Select Committee.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Nidu said, “I would like to take everybody along. We will take a final view at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting on Tuesday,” he said.
The GST Bill, being a Constitutional amendment Bill, is required to be passed by both the Houses of Parliament by a two-third majority. The Bill will then need ratification of more than half of 29 states before its scheduled roll out in April next year.
Earlier in the day, the government introduced the the Land Acquisition Bill in the Lok Sabha amid loud protests by the Opposition benches, including some of the NDA allies.
The Opposition opposed the introduction of the Bill saying similar measure was pending in the Rajya Sabha, however, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the contention of parties like the Congress, the TMC, the BJD and the Left.
“There is no rule which bars introduction of a Bill, while a Bill on the same subject passed by the Lok Sabha is pending in the Rajya Sabha,” Mahajan said, in her ruling. The Congress MPs along with those from the TMC, the AAP and the Left parties, led by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, staged a walk-out. Interestingly, Raju Shetti of the Swabhimani Paksha Party, an NDA ally, also opposed the the Bill claiming that the consent clause has been diluted. Venkaiah said, “When the Opposition went on making political comments and criticise, the government cannot sit watching. We want to take the majority view.”
■ Elated AIADMK members flashed victory sign in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha soon after party’s leader J Jayalalithaa was acquitted in the DA case.
■ As the LS was discussing the new Land Bill, smiling AIADMK members entered the House and flashed victory sign while some of them were heard saying ‘Amma success’
■ In RS, AIADMK members walked up to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and chatted with him. The oposition members also shook hands with them.