Opposition stumped by govt in Rajya Sabha

Opposition's attempt to send the contentious RTI (Amendment) Bill to a Select Committee by roping in non-aligned parties like BJD and TRS came a cropper on Thursday as government worked the phone lines to bring them on board.

Initially, the Opposition was sure that parties like BJD (7 MPs) and TRS (6 MPs) would stand with them in the demand for sending the Bill to Rajya Sabha Select Committee for further Parliamentary scrutiny. 

There were reports that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself dialled Odisha Chief Minister and BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik while TRS chief and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao got a call from Home Minister Amit Shah seeking support.

The final tally 75-117 on the motion for sending the Bill to Select Committee also showed the changing dynamics of Rajya Sabha where the Opposition had the upper hand. It had earlier managed to even amend the Motion of Thanks to President's Speech more than once in the past two years.

While the Treasury Benches were almost full, there were more than a dozen absentees in the Opposition seats.

At present, BJP has the support of around 110 MPs while TRS, BJD and YSR Congress (2) remain non-aligned though it has come to the rescue of the government in critical situation.

However, this time the Opposition was hopeful that TRS and BJD would come on board. Leaders of both the parties had expressed serious concerns and even demanded sending the Bill for further Parliamentary scrutiny.

On Wednesday, Opposition had decided to press for sending seven bills, including the amendments on RTI, to Select Committee. 

Opposition was also hoping that the government may agree to their demand on RTI (Amendment) Bill as it announced in Rajya Sabha that it was not taking it up on Wednesday though it was listed for passing that day.

However, it now appears that the government was trying to buy time to ensure number on its side. 

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