Parliament session begins today
RC Rajamani
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Whether or not it is going to be the last Parliament session before an advanced Lok Sabha polls as being speculated in political quarters, the monsoon session beginning tomorrow is most likely the last before the country goes into poll mode ahead of the year end Assembly elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. Though the government has claimed that it has received “emphatic assurance” of Opposition cooperation to ensure a trouble free session for transacting important legislative business that includes the Food Security Bill, hopes and doubts rise alternately about what would happen on the floor of the House.  If past ‘assurances’ were any guide, there is not much hope of hassle-free proceedings during the 16 days the month long session will have scheduled sittings. The session is due to end on August 30. “In any case, hopefully, it won’t be a washout as was the case in some past sessions,” said a Congress leader who is also a minister of state. Even assuming a normal session, it will just about have time to discuss and pass 44 Bills that have been listed on the agenda.
According to one computation, Parliament will have just 48 hours to complete all the listed business. There are as many as five important Bills that need to be passed for replacing ordinances promulgated during the inter session period. They are the National Food Security Ordinance, the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Amendment) Second Ordinance, the Readjustment of representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies (Second) Ordinance, and the Securities Laws (Amendment) Ordinance. The Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2013-14 is another crucial financial item that needs to be discussed and passed. Ominously, except on the legislation to amend the RTI Act, the government has not received firm commitment of support from the Opposition. A source of worry for the treasury benches is the likely behaviour of Congress members from Andhra on the government decision to carve out a separate Telangana. Quite a few members have reportedly resigned from both Houses in protest against the decision. These are yet to be accepted by the Speaker or the Congress leadership which is hoping to persuade its MPs, including some ministers, to take back their resignations.