Why Rajya Sabha should return to business

Key bills need to be passed in four days but the opposition is adamant

GN Bureau | December 18, 2014



The house should function. With the country facing imminent shortage of coal to run power plants, it is imperative that parliament give green signal to the coal block allocation. But the Rajya Sabha is in turbulence over the opposition demand. It wants to see the prime minister in the house to make a statement on the conversion controversy.

For the past few days the upper house is being repeatedly adjourned and the legislative business has come to a grinding halt.

Power minister Piyush Goyal has to seek the approval of the Rajya Sabha for the bill to provide for allocation of  coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over the land and mine infrastructure together with mining leases to successful bidders and  allottees. This will ensure continuity in coal mining operations, production of coal and power generation.

The bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha, is aimed to replace the ordinance that followed the supreme court order. The winter session of parliament ends in four days.

On Wednesday, in a bid to end the deadlock in the Rajya Sabha, the government conceded to the opposition's demand on Modi’s presence in the upper house.

The opposition has been demanding that Modi should make a statement on the religious conversion row. However, the ruling party has maintained that the prime minister will not make any statement but will merely attend the session.

The house has not been able to function for the last three days amid uproar over the demand for the statement.

The government has accepted the opposition's demand as it wants to pass several key bills as it needs the support of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha where it does not have the required numbers.

There was an interesting exchange of words over the numbers. Leader of the ruling party and finance minister Arun Jaitley said while one house (Lok Sabha) is functioning normally, the other is not. It is not the arrogance of the government but of numbers (of opposition). Retorting to the taunting comments, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the other house is functioning because of tyranny of majority.

Among the bills that government seeks to pass this session are the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and the Insurance Bill.

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