Budget session: After Delhi debacle, challenges mount for BJP-led alliance

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New Delhi, Feb 19: The BJP's drubbing in Delhi elections is likely to cast its shadow on the legislative agenda of the NDA government with opposition parties expected to join hands against the ruling alliance on a range of issues including some ordinances that have to be replaced with bills.

The important budget session, which begins Feb 23, will see a push by the government for passage of the bills that will replace six ordinances promulgated since the last sitting of parliament.

Budget session: After Delhi debacle, challenges mount for BJP-led alliance.
The government has given varied reasons for the ordinances including the need for deepening the reform process in the economy. An ordinance was also apparently aimed at Delhi elections.

An ordinance must be replaced by a law within six weeks of the re-assembly of the two houses for it not to lapse.

With the ruling alliance not in a majority in the Rajya Sabha, Congress leaders said it will not be easy for the government to get some of the bills aimed at replacing ordinances passed. The party is strongly opposed to changes in the land acquisition act and has voiced its reservations on some other ordinances.

Congress MP and former union minister Rajeev Shukla said "the party will try to forge unity among opposition parties on various issues in the budget session."

Shukla also said that the government has lost political momentum after the Delhi results. "The results show how soon the government has started facing unpopularity. People feel that promises made to them have not been fulfilled," Shukla told IANS.

The BJP's campaign for Feb 7 elections in Delhi was largely centered around Prime Minister Narendra Modi though former IPS officer Kiran Bedi was named chief ministerial candidate about two weeks before the polling day. The BJP could win only three of 70 seats in Delhi causing a shock in the party rank and file. The party had earlier registered good performances in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

Biju Janata Dal leader in the Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab said that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party will be on the back foot during the session due to poor showing in Delhi elections.

"BJP was unable to retain its support in Delhi (compared to Lok Sabha polls). It was unable to convince those who had high hopes from the BJP-led government at the Centre," Mahtab told IANS.

Asked about the possibility of the government convening a joint session of parliament if a bill was defeated in the Rajya Sabha, Mahtab said "joint session is not an answer."

He said the government wants that its majority in Lok Sabha to be respected and should do do so for Rajya Sabha where it does not have majority.

Mahtab said his party has objections to the ordinance concerning mines and minerals and would see if the government addresses them in the bill.

Opposition parties have accused the government of resorting to "ordinance raj" and showing authoritarian tendencies.

According to PRS Legislative, which tracks work of parliament, six ordinances have been promulgated for the past about two months. These are coal mines (special provisions) second ordinance, insurance laws amendment ordinance, right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (amendment) ordinance, the citizenship (amendment) ordinance, motor vehicles (amendment) ordinance and mines and mineral (development and regulation) ordinance.

In remarks that were seen as a caution to the government, President Pranab Mukherjee had last month said that the Constitution provided for promulgation of ordinance in extraordinary situation.

The ordinances, he said, can be issued to "meet certain exigencies and under compelling circumstances".

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said that people have conveyed their disapproval over decisions of the Modi government and also "rejected sectarian, divisive politics of BJP." .

"The government has taken ordinance route on substantial policy matters whether it is land bill, FDI in insurance or coal allocation," Raja told IANS.

Raja said the government was planning to cut down on subsidies but the Delhi results will force a rethink.

He said that even if the government is able to get the ordinances passed in the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha was not likely to approve them.

Janata Dal-United leader K. C. Tyagi said "morale of opposition will be high" during the budget session.

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said he did not see a relation of Delhi poll results with the budget session and National Democratic Alliance had been given a mandate for five years.

The government is expected to push for passage of bills to replace ordinances in the first half of the budget session which will continue till March 20. The second part of budget session will commence after a month-long recess from April 20 and conclude May 8.

IANS

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