NEW DELHI: The fate of the Budget Session of Parliament beginning February 23 is a foregone conclusion. Even the ruling BJP knows that the current political storm over the JNU row and Jat reservation will ultimately pit both the ruling and Opposition at each other’s throat blocking legislative businesses of both the Houses.
Apparently, the inept handling of the JNU crisis and subsequent response have helped unite the opposition. Sensing prolonged protests, the NDA has decided to focus on minimum and most important legislations that it is hoping to get cleared.
The government note for the Budget Session, accessed by The Sunday Standard, shows its fear and only 15 bills, including GST and Real Estate, top the priority.
Besides, over 30 bills piloted by different ministries have been put under ‘least priority’ category, hoping that the Opposition might ultimately yield for discussion. Legislations related to ministries of Health; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; Corporate Affairs; Agriculture, Environment; and External Affairs figure in the ‘least priority’ category. Two bills of the Ministry of External Affairs—the Anti-Maritime Piracy Bill, 2016 and Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill—may not be taken up. Ministry of Environment’s Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill and Ministry of Corporate Affairs’s Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 are most likely to meet the similar fate.
The Narendra Modi government is preparing the Budget, but given the host of events leading up to the Parliament session starting Tuesday, there are fears it will be a stormy one. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu talks to Pratul Sharma talks on the challenges during the session.
Will Parliament function?
Parliament will function smoothly and effectively. The prime minister has assured parties that the government is willing to discuss anything.
Opposition will protest issues such as JNU, Dalit scholar’s suicide, President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, National Herald case.
All these are national issues, be it JNU, Hyderabad. Parliament should debate them. Even my own party MPs want to discuss JNU. What were the slogans raised, who organised these protests? Our government is committed to the unity and integrity of the country and cannot allow such divisive tendencies to gain ground. If anyone is innocent, he should be spared and guilty should be punished.
What about the GST Bill?
On February 22, I am calling a meeting of all parties where proposals of Bills will be put forth. I will be taking the advice of the Opposition also.
Many Rajya Sabha nominated seats are falling vacant. Will that give NDA leeway in the Upper House?
We will have some more comfort in Rajya Sabha. By next year, it will be a different situation. This year also things will really improve.
This will be NDA’s second budget. What can people expect?
That is for the finance minister to say. But keeping in view the financials of the country, our overall thrust is on infrastructure development, welfare. Both will go hand in hand. In infrastructure, government has to invest more as the private sector has a leverage. We want to improve economy. Railways needs funding as revenues have stopped. It will be a realistic Budget.
Will elections in five states influence House proceedings?
Parliament will not be allowed to set political agenda. Parliament is there to discuss, debate issues, take up legislations. Everyone should keep the nation’s interest in mind rather than a party’s interest. Unofficially, Congressmen say land bill and GST should be passed. We have no problem talking to them.
Is the Rahul Gandhi the roadblock?
I don’t want to comment. We are talking with the Congress. Who is influencing Congress, they know and the country knows.
First Hyderabad, now JNU. Aren’t other issues being pushed to the background?
Some people are trying to divert attention. Who sought permission for a meeting, who raised slogans? We do not want to settle political scores. Ultras are influencing certain political discourse in the university. They can’t tolerate others’ ideas, that is the clash. I appeal to people who have been charged to declare publicly that they are not part of this campaign. They are fringe elements, but they are getting space in media, and sending a strong message to the world. We should nip it in the bud. Enemies of our country will then say, ‘See, demands of self-determination is coming from Jadavpur University. Mainstream students are not interested in them. Everyone knows that its CPM or Maoist outfits with different names. In Delhi they call it DSU, in Hyderabad in Ambedkar’s name.