Twelve of these bills have been passed by Lok Sabha but are stuck in Rajya Sabha. The rest haven’t even cleared the Lower House.
New Delhi: Another stormy session of Parliament is set to begin Wednesday, but going by the legislative track record of the 16th Lok Sabha, it’s difficult to get one’s hopes up. As many as 40 bills introduced by the Narendra Modi government since 2014 are still stuck, with only 12 having been passed in the Lok Sabha, where it enjoys a comfortable majority.
The upcoming monsoon session is the penultimate full session of this Lok Sabha, with elections due in April-May next year.
The 16th Lok Sabha has increasingly witnessed low productivity and dismal conduct of legislative business, given the frequent disruptions by an unrelenting opposition, and the Modi government’s inability to manage the floor of the House or reach out to the opposition for an amicable solution.
The pending bills include ones on key issues such as Lokpal, land acquisition, protection of whistleblowers, protection of transgender persons’ rights, inter-state river water disputes, triple talaq, and the Fugitive Economic Offenders bill, brought in after the likes of Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi fled the country.
Bills the govt is unlikely to push
While getting bills passed in the Rajya Sabha has been more difficult for the government, given its number constraints, the inability to conduct legislative business in the Lok Sabha, where it has a comfortable majority, also betrays its reluctance, particularly in cases like the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill.
The government’s initial attempts at diluting the Land Acquisition Act were met by stiff resistance from a united opposition, as well as anger among farmers. Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s “suit-boot ki sarkar” jibe hurt the BJP, forcing it to rework its pro-industry image and drop the proposed amendments.
The contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to give citizenship to illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, has seen massive protests in states like Assam and West Bengal, and by the opposition, which perceives it to be part of the BJP’s Hindutva agenda.
The Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill seeks to grant the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) constitutional status, at par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, and has seen much furore.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, meanwhile, makes all declaration of triple talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void and illegal.
The bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha, but not by the Rajya Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has constantly reminded the people that his government is keen to protect the rights of Muslim women, and has attempted to draw parallels with the Congress, given its history with the Shah Bano case. At a rally in Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, PM Modi even referred to the Congress as a “party for Muslim men”.