Efforts to get Parliament nod for food security, land acquisition bills fail

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s efforts to push the food security and land acquisition bills through Parliament in the budget session — and give itself talking points for the general elections just a year away — failed with the two Houses adjourning sine die on Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule.

But this failure had as much to do with the Opposition’s determination to put the government on the mat as the Congress’s clumsy parliamentary management and its obstinacy in not conceding the demands for the scalps of its Ministers. In the end, all that was achieved was the passage of the Finance Bill and the railway budget — and that too with virtually no discussion, something the Opposition needs to answer for.

The session began on a sour note with the Opposition expressing anger at the leaking of the draft JPC report on 2G on the eve of Parliament session and at its contents. If that plunged the two Houses into turmoil, the discovery that Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar may have tried to influence the CBI’s investigations in the Coalgate affair, followed by the arrest of Railway Minister Pawan Bansal’s nephew on charges of accepting a bribe, ensured that the Opposition had enough to make a noise about.

Two views

The government has since shown its determination not to concede the Opposition’s demand for the resignations of the two Ministers, with party sources saying there is division on how to deal with the matter. While Congress president Sonia Gandhi is keen to drop the two Ministers, the other view is that the party is still paying for the swiftness with which the Congress dumped the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, on charges of being involved in the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai.

After the Supreme Court’s order in the CBI affidavit case came in on Wednesday, a senior Congress functionary said that while the apex court had been critical of Mr. Kumar’s role, it was not an indictment that merited his sacking. Similarly, in the case of Mr. Bansal, Congress sources are still repeating that the sins of the nephew should not be visited on the uncle unless there is evidence to directly link the Minister to the bribe given by Railway Board member Mukesh Kumar.

Meanwhile, the chairs of both Houses expressed their displeasure at the way business was obstructed. Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari made a terse comment that the record of work done and not done in the second half of the budget session was in the public domain and did not require any commentary.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, choosing not to make her customary valedictory address, said the House was adjourned early because it was not running.

“The House should run, the House should always run. There should not be any disturbance for any reason,” she told journalists. “It is a betrayal of the trust of the people who have elected their representatives.”

  • Both Houses adjourned sine die two days ahead of schedule

  • Chairs express their displeasure at obstruction of business