Govt gives in; RS defers vote on mines bill

Govt gives in; RS defers vote on mines bill

Govt gives in; RS defers vote on mines bill

The Opposition on Tuesday agreed to a compromise on deferring a vote in the Rajya Sabha on the fate of an amendment bill on developing mines and minerals.

The move helped the NDA government avoid the embarrassment of being defeated a second time in a week in the Upper House.

The showdown was averted after the government agreed to refer the Mines and Minerals (Amendment) Bill to the Select Committee. If voting had taken place, the Narendra Modi government would have faced an embarrassment like the one when an amendment moved by the CPM on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address was passed last week.

The face-saver came after a debate of nearly six and a half hours and repeated adjournments, as the Arun Jaitley-led Treasury benches and an unrelenting Opposition waged a battle for supremacy on the issue of sending the bill to the Select Committee.

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien thrashed out the compromise after Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu suggested that the leaders sit together on Wednesday morning to decide on the Select Committee’s composition and time frame.

The drama unfolded as CPM member P Rajeeve moved an amendment to the bill seeking it to be sent to the Select Committee, which consists of seven MPs from the Opposition. The Congress’ Jesudas Seelam and Shantaram Naik also moved similar amendments.

While the Opposition wanted the motion to be put to vote without a discussion, the Treasury benches wanted the bill passed on Tuesday, as they argued that any delay would lead to loss of employment and was detrimental to states with sizeable tribal populations.

Jaitley said the bill was a matter of urgency, and the Opposition’s stand was a “conspiracy against tribal states” to delay their benefits. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and other Opposition leaders countered that the government was subverting the House convention by not sending the bill to the Select Committee.

They insisted on voting on their motion first, and both sides frequently threw the rulebook at each other to buttress their points.As Kurien ruled for a discussion on the motion, several members participated in the debate, but a question over the propriety of the motion moved by Rajeeve came up.

Jaitley argued that the motion was “infructuous” as it had only members from the Opposition, and a House Committee cannot be constituted without proper representation.

As arguments continued, Naidu suggested a compromise formula, which indicated a climbdown from the government’s initial position of not having a Select Committee look into the Bill.

His suggestion of a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the committee’s composition and time frame was not supported initially by the Opposition, with Azad saying that BJP leaders could come up with the names of their MPs for the panel.

Kurien then intervened and urged the Opposition to consider the proposal.
Later, he adjourned the House after announcing that the leaders would meet on Wednesday to decide on the Select Committee.

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