Winter session of Parliament likely to be extended

Government keen to get 38 bills passed; Oppn gears up for fight

Winter session of Parliament likely to be extended

Under attack from political parties, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on Tuesday said it was mulling over extending the brief Winter Session of Parliament beginning Thursday to accommodate important laws, including the much-awaited bill to carve out a separate Telangana.

At an all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, the UPA’s floor managers came under all round attack for listing 38 bills during the Winter Session which has just 12 sittings. If one takes out three Fridays—kept aside for private members’ business—the session effectively has only nine sittings.

“The government is not serious about anything,” Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters after the meeting. Swaraj did not wait for the customary lunch after the meeting which was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. She said there was unanimity among parties on the issue of extending the Winter Session after a week-long Christmas break.

The Winter Session beginning Thursday concludes on December 20.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said he would consider the demand and also hold consultations with leaders of the Rajya Sabha as well as MPs from the northeast and southern states, which were not adequately represented in Tuesday’s meeting.

Of the 38 bills listed for the session, the government is keen to get Parliament nod to the bill ratifying the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh, economic reform measures such as the Insurance Bill and the Direct Taxes Code Bill.

The bill to create a separate state of Telangana is also top priority for the Congress and almost all political parties made a strong demand to introduce it in the upcoming session. The government has said that passage of Women’s Reservation Bill and Lokpal Bill will be its top priority.

The UPA is expected to face a tough time getting its legislative agenda through during the session as the Opposition would seek to put the government on the mat on issues such as price rise, incidents of sexual assault on women, the controversial report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the 2G scam.

The Left parties have declared that they would move an adjournment motion on the first day of the Winter Session on the issue of price rise.

Among the bills listed for introduction are a Constitutional Amendment Bill on the India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, the HIV/Aids (Prevention and Control) Bill, Electronic Delivery of Services Bill, the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill and the Public Debt Management Agency of India Bill.

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