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This article was first published 9 years ago  » Business » Lok Sabha passes coal, insurance bills; set to face hurdles in RS

Lok Sabha passes coal, insurance bills; set to face hurdles in RS

Source: PTI
March 04, 2015 22:25 IST
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By all accounts govt is working towards joint sitting of the two houses to clear contentious laws but lack of numbers would upstage it there too

The government managed to pass the crucial Coal and Insurance Amendment bills in the Lok Sabha smoothly today but these much-awaited big ticket reforms of the government are likely to be stonewalled in the Rajya Sabha where the government is in minority.

Although the Opposition Congress concedes that it does not oppose the Insurance Bill on 'merits' it would not allow the government to use "brute force of numbers" and pass new bills when the coal as well as insurance bills were pending before the Rajya Sabha.

As for the Land Acquisition bill, the government is slated to table it before the Lok Sabha on Monday but on this issue will not find any cooperation from the Congress and Opposition benches which are firmly entrenched against the legislation. By all accounts the government is working towards a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament to clear contentious legislation but the lack of numbers would upstage it there too, should it not manage to win over a few political parties in the Opposition like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (AIADMK).

Senior Congress leaders expressed surprise at the government strategy on replacing the bills with ordinances and pushing them through without engaging with the Opposition. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad speaking to Business Standard said,"When the government saw on February 24, in the Rajya Sabha that the Opposition refused to let it withdraw the three important bills -- on Coal, Insurance and Motor Vehicles -- they should have attempted to engage with the Opposition and discuss their concerns instead of steamrolling all views and bringing in new bills in the Lok Sabha. This is possibly for the first time that such an unprecedented situation has occurred in Parliamentary history."

The prime minister had given ample evidence of the government not willing to kowtow before the Opposition when in his reply on the Presidential address in Parliament he reminded them that political parties should respect the electoral mandate in their respective states and not persevere with their traditional attitude of opposing every action of the government.

When the new bills on coal and insurance were taken up by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday which cleared the bills by voice vote, the Congress did not oppose it but abstained from voting on certain amendments in the Insurance bill which were pressed by the TMC and the Left parties.

Making clear the Congress' stand on the Insurance Bill in the upper house spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "We are not on merits of the bill we are opposed to the methodology of Ordinance that has been adopted. Also there is an attempt to bypass the upper house where the bill is already pending by bringing in a new bill."

He added that Congress was not alone in this and the Opposition was with it on this view. CPM's P Rajeeve who raised the issue of violation of Constitutional rights of the upper house Art 107, made it clear that the Opposition was awaiting the verdict of the chairman on the issue. Due to vociferous objections from the Opposition, neither the Coal nor the Mining bill could be placed in the list of business before the upper house in the coming week.

Meanwhile MoS Finance, Jayant Sinha later went on record to say, "If insurance bill is defeated in the Rajya Sabha, it will open an opportunity for a joint session."

The Congress led Opposition however does not buy that argument with political parties admitting that they would prefer not to clear or reject the coal and insurance bills and keep it pending before the upper house, making it difficult for the government to bring it before a joint sitting. Opposition parties point to the recent victory with their majority numbers in making the government accept amendments to the President's speech, only the fourth such occasion in Parliamentary history.

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