With the government planning to extend the Parliament session to push through several legislation, the Opposition parties met Wednesday and identified as many as seven Bills which they want sent to Select Committees for scrutiny. A confrontation is likely Thursday when the RTI amendment Bill is expected to come up in Rajya Sabha.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi met Opposition leaders at the Congress Parliamentary Party office, but the SP and TMC stayed away. Later, leaders of both these parties attended a meeting in the chamber of Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad. Both meetings aimed at evolving a common Opposition strategy over Bills in the two Houses.
TMC leader Derek O’Brien listed the seven Bills in Rajya Sabha which, he said, could not be passed without legislative scrutiny. The Bills are: The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2019; The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019; The Code Wages Bill, 2019; The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code Bill, 2019; The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019; The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019; and, The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill 2019.
“As Opposition parties, we have informally made a list of seven such Bills; not all, but of seven such Bills, which have had no Parliamentary scrutiny either through a Select Committee or the Parliamentary Standing Committee. In a spirit of cooperation to improve these Bills further, to have public discussions on them, and to maintain the glorious tradition set from 1993, we are telling you on the floor of the House, we have informally shared with the government that even though we are bringing up resolutions, we will be more than happy if the government brings a resolution and form these committees,” he said.
Move to stand up, be counted
Outnumbered in LS, Opposition parties will stand up to be counted in RS where they enjoy numerical superiority. By identifying seven Bills which they want sent for Parliamentary scrutiny, they want to not just allay concerns but also make the point that they can’t be brushed aside.
CPI’s D Raja told The Indian Express: “The meeting convened by Sonia Gandhi was to discuss better floor coordination. We felt there should be a coordinated approach in both Houses. Many of the Bills are important. The Standing Committees are not yet announced. The Lok Sabha is passing Bills. In Rajya Sabha, we can always ask that some of the important Bills be sent to Select Committees.”
Earlier, Derek O’Brien spoke on how this is the first session when no Bill has been sent to a Standing Committee or a Select Committee, and that the Opposition had taken a call to pass the POCSO Bill in the interest of children of the country. He said if it lets through the RTI Bill, the Council of States would be failing in its duty to uphold the spirit of federalism. MoS for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan immediately said that the RTI Bill, though listed, would not be taken up Thursday.