Parliamentary face-off

Updated - November 16, 2021 06:18 pm IST

Published - May 06, 2015 01:12 am IST

The likelihood of the Modi government pushing through key Bills relating to land acquisition, real estate and a goods and services tax in the few days left of the Budget session is beginning to look increasingly remote. It can perhaps bank on getting approval for the black money law, and that too because as a money bill, support or otherwise in the Rajya Sabha (where it does not have the numbers) is irrelevant. The BJP’s parliamentary managers had hoped to replicate the strategy adopted in the early half of the Budget session when they breached Opposition unity by first taking up the Bill to increase FDI in insurance conceived by the UPA government, to secure Congress support. Next, they persuaded parties that run State governments and stood to benefit through the coal and mines Bills — West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress and Odisha’s Biju Janata Dal — to back them. This time, however, the Congress, that remains undecided on the GST Bill —though it had brought in the Bill during UPA rule — saying the BJP has changed it, is also opposing the real estate bill, emboldened by the return of a seemingly rejuvenated Rahul Gandhi. The government, that had excluded Assam from the >India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement Bill in order to appease its voters in that State, has been forced to retract under pressure from the Congress and, more importantly, Bangladesh: the latter made its displeasure known on changes that smacked of bullying. As for the Real Estate (Amendment) Bill, the Opposition has forced the government to agree to send it to a select committee in the Rajya Sabha.

If the Modi government finds itself in a tight spot over key pieces of legislation, it has only itself to blame. Barring the Land Acquisition Bill, over which there is resistance from a united Opposition, there is enough common ground for it to have found a way out. The ruling dispensation’s key failing has been its attitude that is reflected in the Prime Minister Modi’s fleeting appearances in the Houses, the manner in which even junior Ministers such as Rajiv Pratap Rudy “advise” the Lok Sabha Speaker on what to expunge from records, or Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu saying that the BJP’s Lok Sabha majority entitles it to steamroll Bills through. The government has shown scant respect for normal parliamentary practices such as sending key Bills to standing committees. Also, the government attracted the wrath of the Opposition first by sequencing the GST Bill ahead of the Finance Bill — the centrepiece of the Budget session — and then by including non-taxation proposals in it. It was forced eventually to withdraw on both counts. Clearly, the government needs to take some lessons in parliamentary democracy. If it doesn’t now reach out to the Opposition, the face-off will continue, to its own detriment.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.