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UPA plans to push through new laws to counter charges of policy paralysis

UPA plans to push through new laws to counter charges of policy paralysis
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First Published: Thu, Nov 17 2011. 10 26 PM IST

Meeting point: Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar conducted an all-party meet on Thursday to discuss the agenda for the session. Photo: Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times.
Meeting point: Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar conducted an all-party meet on Thursday to discuss the agenda for the session. Photo: Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times.
Updated: Thu, Nov 17 2011. 10 26 PM IST
New Delhi: The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) intends to push through a raft of legislations in the upcoming winter session of Parliament to ward off accusations of policy paralysis in the government ahead of next year’s assembly elections.
Meeting point: Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar conducted an all-party meet on Thursday to discuss the agenda for the session. Photo: Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times.
But ministers said the UPA is not expecting a business-like session, with the opposition parties set to target the government on contentious issues such as corruption and price rise.
The UPA has listed 31 proposed laws for consideration by Parliament in the month-long session, which begins on Tuesday. It will focus on “essential government legislative and other business, including financial business”, parliamentary affairs minister P.K. Bansal said.
Bansal met the chief whips of all political parties on Wednesday seeking cooperation. However, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties insisted that both houses of Parliament take up issues such as inflation and black money in the first few days of the session.
The opposition is also expected to target the government over the provisions of the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill of 2011 and recent moves to improve relations with Pakistan. Lawmakers from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh are also likely to disrupt proceedings as the UPA is yet to decide on their demand for statehood.
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“It is our intention (to push the legislations). However, the government is aware that it is very difficult to even achieve 50% of the target in the current scenario,” said a cabinet minister who did not want to be identified.
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar conducted an all-party meet on Thursday to discuss the agenda for the session. The opposition indicated it will target the government on issues such as price rise, corruption, a proposed law on creating the anti-graft watchdog Lokpal, and the ongoing census of castes.
Kumar described the meeting as “very fruitful” and said all leaders were “very keen” that the House transacts all business, including the passage of Bills, during the session. She said the opposition parties came up with 45 issues it wanted to be discussed.
“Keeping the elections in view, the government wants to rebrand itself with some headline reforms. It would not work because the rejuvenated opposition has listed several issues ranging from chloride content in drinking water to corruption charges to take on the government,” said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst. “A smooth session cannot be expected.”
Elections are due in five states next year, including Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state.
Parliamentary proceedings were disrupted during the budget and monsoon sessions as the opposition attacked the government over corruption charges against ministers and rising inflation. This prevented the government from transacting any major legislative business.
Keen on projecting a reform-friendly image, the UPA is expected to push the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) Bill, which aims to promote old age income security by establishing, developing and regulating pension funds.
It has also listed the Women’s Reservation Bill, which will reserve 33% seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, and the National Food Security Bill, which will provide a legal entitlement to subsidized foodgrain to 75% of the country’s rural population and 50% of urban India.
The long-pending Companies Bill, which aims at reforming the functioning of the country’s corporate sector, is also on the agenda.
Most of the Bills listed are in the initial stages of drafting and the legislative process is time consuming, said Mrug. “Also the credibility of the government is at its lowest, so it will not have the desired impact,” he said.
PTI contributed to this story.
liz.m@livemint.com
PDF by Sandeep Bhatnagar/Mint
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First Published: Thu, Nov 17 2011. 10 26 PM IST
More Topics: UPA | Policy | Laws | Meira Kumar | Speaker |