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Government's monsoon session tangle

August 06, 2013 01:50 IST

Renu Mittal explains why United Progressive Alliance government’s crucial legislative plans may not work despite all its efforts.

With the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament been washed out by protests over the creation of Telangana and demands for other smaller states, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath wants to bring the crucial food security bill to the Lok Sabha on Wednesday as the first important item in United Progressive Alliance government’s long list of pending business.

Nath told a meeting of Lok Sabha’s business advisory committee that the first three items on his priority list are the food security bill, the land acquisition bill and the SEBI ordinance. The government wants all three taken up this week; however it looks unlikely that this can happen.

The Opposition does not want to work on August 16 and 19 as there are holidays in between and instead it may happen that the government will consider extending the session by a few days till September 4 with the House making up for lost time.

The Opposition wants a discussion on Uttarakhand and the economic situation in the country with the government yet to allot time for that. The Rajya Sabha is likely to discuss Uttarakhand on Tuesday.

While the government is working overtime to firm up its main social sector schemes, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a meeting of all ministers on Monday evening to discuss the direct cash transfer scheme which the government hopes would transfer funds directly to the people, cutting out the middlemen.

The government is also cautiously hopeful of passing the food security bill without any big hurdles coming their way even if the Samajwadi Party does not support it. Lately, they have put some conditions to see that farmers’ interests are protected.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal-United want certain amendments included as the price of their support, and sources say the government has an open mind on discussing them.

The BJP and the Left want to take up the issue of Durga Shakti Nagpal, the suspended IAS officer, action against whom by the Uttar Pradesh government has created a nation wide stir.

Sources say that after Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s letter to the prime minister was made public, the Samajwadi Party has hardened its stand with party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav saying the decision to suspend her was correct and that the state government would not revoke the suspension.

It is learnt that the UP government has finally sent a reply to the Centre on the facts pertaining to the suspension of Nagpal.

Meanwhile, Department of Personnel and Training Minister V Narayanasamy said the Centre can only act if the concerned officer files an appeal to the Centre to intervene and act.

But the general impression is that the IAS officer, who has refused to speak to the media on the grounds that she will only reply to her government, has not made up her mind yet. Nagpal is in two minds due to the fact that her protest could only sour relations between her and the state government.

Sources also say that the state government, reportedly, acted on the report of the local intelligence unit saying there was communal tension in the area and bringing down the masjid wall in the month of Ramzan could have triggered unease.

However, in Lucknow, no one is buying this version of the event and allege that the local intelligence sleuths acted at the behest of the sand mafia and SP leader Narender Bhatti.

There is also a huge protest against state government’s refusal to go by the report of the district magistrate.

It is learnt that Nagpal had gone to Gautam Buddh Nagar, informed the villagers that without permission a religious place could not be built on government land and left as she had to attend the farewell of a district circle officer and was not even present when the wall was brought down.

But the LIU has claimed that she was present there and the state government has used this report as the basis of its reply to the Centre.

It is interesting to note that Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose party has never won the Gautam Budh Nagar or Noida seat, now hopes this incident would consolidate the Muslim vote in the area, sources add.

Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Photograph: B Mathur/Reuters

Renu Mittal in New Delhi