The opening week of the Winter Session of Parliament saw the National Democratic Alliance government deploy diplomacy, tough talk and some gentle arm-twisting — not to mention the might of its majority in the Lok Sabha — to drive home its agenda.
In an effectively four-day week, with work on the opening day restricted to obituaries and introductions of new Ministers, Parliament cleared three Bills. Another three were approved by the Lok Sabha and now await passage by the Rajya Sabha.
The two vacancies in the Select Committee examining the contentious Insurance Bill were filled, and it appears set to submit its report on December 12, making passage of this law a possibility in this session.
Government business apart, black money was discussed in both Houses. The government also agreed to a debate on the MGNREGA in the Rajya Sabha, where it assured the Opposition that the United Progressive Alliance’s flagship programme would not be diluted.
Expectedly, the government had more success in the Lower House, thanks to its numbers, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s control of the House and Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu’s conciliatory style.
Mr. Naidu reaches Parliament at 9 a.m., studies the business and at 9.30 a.m., holds a strategy meeting with his two deputies, Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Lok Sabha) and Mukthar Abbas Naqvi (Rajya Sabha), and the whips.
The government had negligible success in the Rajya Sabha.
Despite Chairman Hamid Ansari switching the time slots for Question Hour and Zero Hour, the House could not function for over a few minutes on any day, largely because the Opposition dominates the Upper House and the government is in a minority.