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Cong, BJP blame each other for lukewarm Winter as session ends

Tuesday 19 December 2006, by BHATTACHARYA*Santwana

NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 18: With Parliament finding no time to consider or pass a number of important Bills, it was time for the ruling UPA-Left combine to blame the Opposition for frequent disruptions. But, the BJP-led Opposition was not to be left behind, it accused the government for keeping the Winter session rather too short.

The important legislations that could not be taken up includes the Pension and the Banking Regulation Bill, on which the Left Parties and the Government could not agree. The hectic negotiations, involving Finance Minister P Chidambaram and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the CPM-CPI parliamentary party leaders, did not yield desired results as both the sides stuck to their respective lines.

However, the 11th Plan Approach Paper which the PM wanted discussed in both Houses, fizzled out as the Opposition took up the Singur-Mamata land deal issue to disrupt the House. Even the discussion on price rise, which both the BJP and the Left were keen to raise got drowned in the midst of political issues.

Similarly, the Sachar Committee report which was tabled by the Minority Affairs Minister AR Antulay was not debated in either House even though the CPI(M) alongwith the Samajwadi Party and the BJP repeatedly asked for a discussion at the Business Advisory Committee meeting. In fact, the SP-TDP staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha today making the same demand.

The Government also evaded queries on whether an ATR (action taken report) would be submitted on the Sachar finding on the socio-economic and educational status of the Muslims.

With Assembly elections in UP, Punjab and several other states round the corner, the political parties, especially the ruling Congress and the BJP, were more keen on earning brownie points against each other. It was evident in the manner in which Opposition quickly picked on the Prime Minister’s comment at the NDC meeting that minorities, SC, STs be given preferential rights to resources and disrupted Parliament the next day. Also the way in which Home Minister Shivraj Patil asserted himself on the Afzal-clemency issue clearly showed that Congress did not want to send a wrong message to its voters before the crucial polls. The charged atmosphere in which the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal got discussed today in the Lok Sabha also needs to be understood in this context.

In the midst of this political mudslinging, the Women’s Reservation Bill got lost. So did, the Factories Bill, the Forward Trading Bill, the Limited Liabilities Bills which are pending with the Standing Committee. However, the Congress-led UPA took care to push through three social sector bills - the Child Marriage Prevention Bill, the OBC Reservation Bill and the Tribal Rights Bill.

This session, the Opposition’s position on tainted ministers got vindicated. Union Minister Shibu Soren had to resign after being sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to murder his former secretary many years ago.

See online : The Indian Express

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