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Rajya Sabha stalemate continues, govt worried about Bills on ordinances

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There are signs that the Opposition will not let the Rajya Sabha function smoothly in the coming week despite important Bills and a Short Duration Discussion on the economy being on the agenda.

This, sources said, raises the possibility of the Bills being passed in the din. This incidently is becoming the new normal, though the Opposition insists they should be first vetted by parliamentary committees.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu expressed “anguish” over the disruptions in the Upper House, saying some members do not respect the Constitution and wondered who gains from the House not conducting its business.

In the Business Advisory Committee meeting last week, all parties agreed on having a short duration discussion on the economic situation in the country.

On top on the government’s agenda are the Bills on six Ordinances–The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021, The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021, and The Tribunal Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021.

The government has listed 29 Bills, including those on the above Ordinances, and two Demands for Grants for discussion and passage in the monsoon session that ends on August 13. In the three working days till now, two were wasted due to disruptions while a short duration discussion on the Covid-19 situation, vaccination and challenges of a third wave was held on July 20. The Marine Aids to Navigation Bill, 2021 was also discussed.

Sources said senior leaders are in touch with the Opposition to break the deadlock. However, the main Opposition party, Congress, is cornering the government on both the burning issues–unauthorised surveillance of phones using the Pegasus software, and the farm Bills.

Passing important Bills in a din is fast becoming a norm. Two of the farm Bills, on which protests are still on, were passed when the House was not in order. On September 23, 2020, Rajya Sabha passed eight Bills in a din before the House was adjourned sine die.

The UPA government did not have a stellar record either in passing Bills through due process. Thirteen Bills were passed while Opposition was protesting in the Upper House during the chairmanship of Vice President Hamid Ansari between 2007 and 2014.

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