NEW DELHI: The fate of the Budget session beginning February 23 is a foregone conclusion. Even the ruling BJP knows that the current political storm over the JNU sedition row and Jat reservation will ultimately put the ruling party and Opposition at each other’s throat blocking legislative businesses in both Houses.
Apparently, the inept handling of the JNU crisis and subsequent response have helped unite the opposition parties. Sensing prolonged protests, the NDA has decided to focus on the most important legislations it is hoping to get cleared.
The government note for the Budget session, accessed by Express, shows its fear with only 15 bills, including GST and Real Estate, being given top priority at the moment.
Over 30 bills piloted by different ministries have been put under the ‘least priority’ category. Legislations related to Ministries of Health, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Corporate Affairs, Agriculture, Environment and External Affairs figure in the ‘least priority’ category. The biggest casualty of expected disruptions could be 14 legislations drafted by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, all of which are in the ‘least priority’ category.
The government, however, has great hopes for economic reform-enabling legislation such as Goods and Services Tax (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Bill, which needs to be passed in the Rajya Sabha. It is also looking to get the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill passed. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has incorporated the amendments suggested by the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The bill aims to establish the Real Estate Regulatory Authority for regulation and promotion of the real estate sector, to protect the interest of consumers.
The government note said that two bills of Civil Aviation Ministry — the Anti-Hijacking Bill and the Carriage by Air Bill — figure in the ‘priority list’. The Anti-Hijacking Bill, which will include a death penalty for hijackers, is pending in the Upper House while the Carriage by Air Bill is pending in the Lower House.
The Ministry of Personnel has decided not to pursue the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials Bill but it has put the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill on the priority list. The bill, passed by Lok Sabha last May, seeks to strengthen safeguards against disclosure, which may pre-judicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country and security of the state.