Going into the winter session of parliament that begins on Wednesday, the Opposition finds itself in an advantageous position over the government. It will seek to corner the government on a number of issues and the latter will have to prepare for another possible session where key issues may get drowned out in protests.
The government has several key bills on its agenda that it will want to pass in this session. However, a logjam by a united Opposition seems imminent. Like in the past when Congress-led opposition forced many washouts in both the Houses, this winter session is also at a crucial juncture where lots of business needs to be done.
The troubles that accompanied the demonetisation process along with the recent suicide of an army veteran over the One Rank One Pension issue have given sufficient ground to the Opposition to launch its attack on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA coalition.
Demonetisation of high value currency notes has resulted in criticism from a large section of the public who are finding it difficult to manage day-to day affairs in absence of sufficient loose cash. Also, after a big show of strength and pomp on the border, the OROP issue again came to backbite the government and the Opposition were quick to jump on it. These issues will find their way into the parliament session and likely to disturb the crucial house business in this session.
There are several key bills that will come up on the legislative agenda in parliament in this session. Some of the important bills listed for consideration and passing include The Consumer Protection Bill, 2015; HIV AIDS (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014; Maternity Benefits (Bill), 2016 that increased the maternity leave to 26 weeks and even grants leaves to adopting and commissioning mothers; Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that proposes illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan from specified religious groups (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian) will be eligible to apply for Indian citizenship.
Other important bills also include the contentious Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015; Prevention of Corruption Bill, 2013; and Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016.
Also, three legislative pieces of the primary GST Act that was passed in the last monsoon session will be introduced by the government for passage. These are Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2016; that enables levy of tax on intra-state supply of goods or services; Integrated Goods and Services Tax Bill, 2016, which enables levy of tax on inter-state supply of goods or services; and finally Goods and Services Tax (Compensation for Loss of Revenue) Bill, 2016 which enables facilitates the compensation to states for the revenue loss suffered by them on account of implementation of GST.
Recently, the GST council approved a four-slab tax structure for GST with an upper limit of 28 per cent. The Congress has shown constant opposition to this high interest rate and continues till date. Also, it has voiced opposition against the four-slab tax structure. The government plans full GST rollout by April 1, 2017 and the tax subsumes levies like service tax, value added tax (VAT), excise duty, local levies and more. It is modelled to streamline the movement of goods and services across India.