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Photo: PTI
Photo: PTI

BJP, Congress bury hatchet to pass key bills in Parliament

The compromise will enable passage of 12 pending bills in Parliament, including the real estate bill but not GST

New Delhi: In a welcome development, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have decided to bury the hatchet, albeit briefly.

This compromise will enable the passage of 12 pending bills in Parliament, including one to set up a real estate regulator, though the constitution amendment to facilitate a Goods and Services Tax (GST) is not on the consensus list. The hiatus is especially surprising given bitter exchanges between the two parties over the first fortnight of the budget session of Parliament.

“Yes, the real estate bill will be taken up for passage in the Rajya Sabha this week. All the opposition parties are on board to pass the bill. The Congress has also agreed to support the bill. The government had agreed to the demand of opposition parties to send the bill to a select committee, but due to political reasons, the bill was not passed. But this week, we are hoping that it will be passed by the Rajya Sabha," said a senior cabinet minister.

A total of 12 bills are on the government’s agenda for the coming week, including seven in the Lok Sabha and five in the Rajya Sabha.

The bills proposed to be taken up in the Lok Sabha next week include the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2016; passing of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016; and The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The other four bills are two appropriation bills relating to Demands for Grants on Account (Railways) for 2016-17 and Supplementary Demands for Grants (Railways) for 2015-16; and two appropriation bills relating to Demands for Grants on Account (General) for 2016-17 and Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2015-16.

The legislative agenda for the Rajya Sabha is to pass Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, 2015; the National Waterways Bill, 2016; the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2012; and The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2013.

According to senior ministers the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has succeeded in convincing the Congress leadership, primarily party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, to support the real estate bill.

At least two senior Congress leaders, who are also members of the Rajya Sabha, confirmed that the party will support the real estate bill whenever the government tables it. “Rahul Gandhi had asked some of us to give inputs on the bill. We have conveyed to him that almost all our concerns have been addressed by the government. Although we are going to move a few amendments when it comes in the House, he (Rahul Gandhi) has indicated that the bill will go through,’’ a Congress leader from the Rajya Sabha said requesting anonymity.

Rahul Gandhi met a group representing home buyers on 3 March, said a Congress leader, aware of the developments. The leader said Gandhi conveyed to them that his party was in favour of the real estate bill and that it should “most definitely" get passed in this session.

Even though NDA has managed a rare breakthrough with the opposition in getting support of the bill, there is still no unanimity on the GST legislation.

“It is unlikely that the GST bill will be taken up in this session. It is being stalled for political reasons," said a senior NDA leader.

“Not just the real estate bill, but Rahul Gandhi wants that all the non-contentious bills, except the GST, which get tabled by the government in this session should get passed by our support. Parliamentary disruptions will not matter when it comes to clearing such legislative business,’’ another Congress leader in the Rajya Sabha said.

With 67 members, as opposed to the BJP’s 48, the Congress holds the key to all legislation awaiting passage in Rajya Sabha.

“The Congress does not want to do anything which makes it look like it is not in favour of policies, especially those relating to the upper middle-class, like the real estate bill,’’ said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.

gyan.v@livemint.com

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