BJP govt rejects charge that it is bulldozing bills

Pictorial representation. Photo credit: PTI

The opposition on Wednesday hit out at the government both inside and outside Parliament and accused it of not keeping its word on sending some bills, including the tripletalaq bill, to select committees as suggested by them.

Referring to the triple talaq bill, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the allegation was not on the Chair, but none of the opposition parties got a chance to issue a whip, while all the members of the BJP and the NDA were present.

"This is a kind of cheating. You can not run the Parliament in this manner that you take a list from the opposition and not tell them that the bill will go to the select committee, but list it in the darkness of the night," he alleged.

In the Rajya Sabha, he said the government had approached the opposition through the parliamentary minister and wanted to know which bills were to be sent to select committees.

"We gave them a list of some 23 bills and we wanted at least half of them to be sent to select committees. We identified as many as six bills as A-category, to be sent to select committees, and two under B-category. The list was taken by the government," Azad said.

"You are the master, you tell your people to be present and we remain under the illusion that this bill is going to the select committee. This is not done. This is unfair on part of the government," Azad said, referring to the passage of the triple talaq bill on Tuesday.

Continuing his attack on the government over the speed with which bills were passed in this Parliament session, TMC MP Derek O'Brien asked "Are we delivering pizzas or passing legislation?"

O'Brien earlier said that the way bills were being passed amounted to "mockery of Parliament" and the government was "smothering" the opposition.

"Parliament is supposed to scrutinise bills. This chart explains the bulldozing this session. Are we delivering pizzas or passing legislation?" he tweeted.

Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said the government has "broken the trust" between it and the opposition.

Sharma said that none of their MPs had abstained willfully. "Let me reject it," he said.

"We did ask our MPs to be present but had we received the information, there would have been a specific whip by the party that this bill will be particularly taken up," he said.

"This will be the first session since 1993 in which the government has not given a bill, either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha, to the standing committee or select committee or the joint selectcommittee for consideration.

"This is happening for the first time in the last 25 to 27 years. The reason for this is that the government does not care about democracy, Parliament, or about the judiciary," he told reporters outsideParliament.

The Congress leader said the bill discussed on Tuesday was the first bill which was supposed to go to a select committee.

"My submission is that out of the six bills, which we had given on priority to be sent to a select committee, was the bill which was discussed on Tuesday and passed. We were in the dark, we could not inform our members of Parliament," he said.

He was supported in the house by O'Brien, who sought the protection of the chair, alleging the government was pushing through legislations without scrutiny.

"There is a rule and there is a convention whereby under understanding and after talking to us, you find solutions for passage of bills. You don't do anything clandestinely at midnight to catch people by surprise," he said.

O'Brien said the top priority of the opposition was to send the triple talaq and the UAPA bills to the select committee for further scrutiny.

"We seek your protection. We want to examine these bills. If the government has the numbers it can pass them. But, let us fight for the integrity of Parliament, that is what we are asking for," the TMC leader said.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) also sought to know whether the minister was denying he told the opposition that bills were being sent to select panels.

"The minister had stated that bills will be sent to select committee. Let the minister speak. If the minister is going back on his words, it is not right," Yadav said.

"I have heard it. I will look into it....You have raised the issue, then I will examine it," Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said.

Countering the opposition's charge, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the chair has already said that eight out of 10 bills in last two years were sent to select committees.

"This shows the intention of the government. This bill UAPA was not sent to select committee during the UPA government. It is not like this that these bills will have to go to select committees," the minister said.

As opposition members created an uproar in the house, Naidu said, "We will take the opinion of the leader of the House and also the parliamentary affairs minister."

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