The eleventh day of Parliament’s Monsoon Session is likely to see frequent disruptions and chaos as the Opposition, miffed over the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) political manoeuvre in Bihar and Gujarat, is likely to rake up the issue in Parliament, even as the Houses has key agenda listed for the Day.
The Rajya Sabha is scheduled to discuss The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-third Amendment) Bill, 2017, the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017.
The Punjab Municipal Corporation Law (Extension to Chandigarh) Amendment Bill, 2017, The Central Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017, and The Integrated Goods and Services Tax (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Bill, 2017, are listed for discussion in Lok Sabha, amid others.
Congress has accused the ruling BJP of poaching its MLAs in Gujarat ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls using “money, muscle and state power.” Meanwhile in Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar shocked the Opposition by walking out of the Mahagathbandhan and allying with the BJP, all within a span of four hours. Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) has been crying foul over the realignment of loyalties in Bihar politics, alleging that Nitish’s move was a pre-meditated political conspiracy.
While the political developments in Bihar and Gujarat echoed in the Rajya Sabha on Friday leading to repeated disruptions, the government was able to get the key Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha.
The bill aims to give the premier institutes more autonomy by restricting government role and enable them to grant degrees.
“After the bill is passed, there will be no government role in the appointment of Board of Directors in IIMs. Let the government come out of it. It will be for the betterment of our higher institutions,” Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said while summing up the discussion in the house.
The bill — which declares 20 existing IIMs as Institutions of National Importance — was later passed after all amendments moved by some members were rejected. Dubbing the bill “historic” vis-a-vis higher education reform, the Minister said autonomy to these institutions will put them in the league of world’s top educational organisations.
The bill provides for conferring statutory powers to these institutions for their functioning, including appointment of directors, faculty, and also gives them powers to award degrees instead of post-graduate diplomas.
Meanwhile in Rajya Sabha, the House saw repeated adjournments on the issue of Congress legislators from Gujarat resigning and joining the state’s ruling BJP. The Congress members accused the BJP of high-handedness to “steal” its Assembly members to dampen the Opposition in the Upper House too, where the BJP is yet to gain a majority.
Senior Congress leader BK Hariprasad alleged that the Prime Minister’s Office was “directly involved” in Gujarat’s developments, prompting loud objections from the Treasury Benches as BJP members trooped to the Well, demanding an apology. Deputy chairman PJ Kurien then adjourned the house for the day amid the ruckus.
The BJP enjoys a brute majority in Lok Sabha, however, the government’s minority status in the Rajya Sabha has stalled several important elements of its legislative agenda. The National Democratic Alliance, currently has 85 seats in the 245-member Upper House. However, the historic win in Uttar Pradesh, which sends the maximum number of legislators to the Upper House, and latest political maneuvers in Gujarat and Bihar are likely to place the saffron party in a more comfortable stead.
The BJP-led NDA has often been accused of taking the ordinance route to bypass parliamentary scrutiny. The Opposition has also blamed the BJP of passing key policy legislation as money bills to avoid discussion in Rajya Sabha, where it has a minority status.
Money bills, as defined in the Constitution of India Act 110, can only be introduced in Lok Sabha, which the Rajya Sabha cannot stall, or amend without the Lower House’s concurrence.