The Mines and Minerals Bill and the Motor Vehicles Bill, that have been cleared by the Lok Sabha, slated to come up in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, will have to first face Opposition-sponsored statutory resolutions disapproving the ordinances they seek to replace before they can be taken up for consideration and passing.
If they are carried, as they may well be, given the Opposition outnumbers the NDA in the Upper House, the government will be in a spot as they will not be able to take these Bills forward, and clear them before March 20.
This comes in the wake of the Modi government facing its first defeat in Parliament last week when the Opposition succeeded in having the amendments it had moved to the President’s Address carried after the debate in the Rajya Sabha.
As a consequence, the BJP-led NDA’s parliamentary managers have been hard at work over the long Holi weekend. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu is set to hold another set of informal meetings on Sunday, sources said, to see if he can breach the Opposition solidarity, something that is getting harder to do: last week, even the Congress abstained in the Lok Sabha from voting on the Insurance Bill — a piece of legislation that it had brought originally during the UPA regime. In the Rajya Sabha, the Congress’s support is crucial as it is the largest party with 67 MPS.
The statutory resolution disapproving the Mines and Minerals ordinances has been moved by D. Raja (CPI), M.P. Achuthan (CPI), Derek O' Brien (Trinamool Congress), T. Subbarami Reddy (Congress) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) and the one disapproving the Motor Vehicles Ordinance has been moved by T. Subbarami Reddy (Congress).Uphill task
So while the Modi government may have succeeded in getting one of the six ordinances it had promulgated in January — dealing with citizenship — converted into an Act of Parliament last week, it clearly faces an uphill task with the other five if opposition unity remains intact.
This means that the government’s efforts to hold a joint sitting of Parliament to pass Bills that get passed by one House and rejected by the other could be thwarted. To hold a joint sitting, a Bill needs to be passed by one and rejected by the other: however, if the statutory resolutions are carried, then the Bill cannot be moved for consideration and passing, but it will not amount to be rejected, said RS sources. A joint sitting can be held but only after the equivalent of six months of sittings, ie almost two years, these sources added.
The Opposition has also been adamant that till three Bills pending in the Rajya Sabha — relating to Insurance, Coal and Motor Vehicles — are withdrawn, fresh ones cannot be brought to the House. So apart from the statutory resolution disapproving the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, the Opposition is also likely to point out that there is a Motor Vehicles Bill pending in the RS, when the government seeks to bring the new Bill on the same subject in the House on Monday.
Meanwhile, on the Land Acquisition Bill — to which the Opposition is the strongest, with even the BJP allies Shiromani Akali Dal, Shiv Sena and Lok Janshakti Party — and the RSS affiliates having expressed their disapproval of it in its current form, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said on the floor of Parliament that his government could consider amendments.