Govt reaches out to Cong before Budget session

Govt reaches out to Cong before Budget session

Will not support anti-people Ordinance, says Azad

Govt reaches out to Cong before Budget session

The Central government on Sunday reached out to Congress president Sonia Gandhi to ensure safe passage for its legislative agenda in the Budget Session of Parliament, which begins on Monday.

The loss in the Delhi Assembly polls has been a setback for the BJP. As the Congress toughened its stand on support to six Ordinances issued by the Centre, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu drove down to Gandhi’s 10, Janpath residence to seek her backing for smooth functioning of Parliament.

This was the first instance of the Narendra Modi government reaching out to the Congress, which the BJP leaders lost no opportunity to ridicule for its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections last year.

During the 30-minute meeting, Gandhi flagged concerns over the Ordinance to ease land acquisition laws. “I told her there are bound to be differences on some issues. The Opposition has every right to highlight any issue,” Naidu told reporters on his meeting with Gandhi.

However, the Congress did not appear to have softened its stand on the Land Acquisition Ordinance. “We will not support any Ordinance that is anti-people,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

A united Opposition had stalled much of the Winter Session of Parliament, virtually derailing the government’s legislative agenda to usher in economic reforms.

The Opposition leaders had flexed their muscle in the Rajya Sabha, where they are in majority, protesting over inflammatory statements of BJP leaders Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj.

The Centre had ignored the Opposition's demand of a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament on the issue. The government had responded to the Opposition’s stalling tactic by issuing six Ordinances soon after the Winter Session had concluded on December 23. According to Naidu, there has been a broad consensus on five Ordinances, pertaining to increasing FDI in the insurance sector, citizenship for overseas Indians, introduction of e-rickshaws in Delhi, allocation of coal blocks and non-coal mines through open bidding.

In a bid to ward off criticism that he is not reaching out to Opposition leaders, Modi had attended functions in NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s hometown Baramati in Maharashtra and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s native Saifai village in Uttar Pradesh this month