The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bill battle ends budget session

New Delhi, May 9: A spat between parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and the Congress deputy leader over Bills marked the last day of the Parliament’s three-month budget session.

Hours after Swaraj took credit for running a “most productive” session with the help of the Opposition, the Lok Sabha was plunged into turmoil as the government sneaked in four major Bills, including those on the creation of Bodo Territorial Council and repeal of the IMDT Act.

An angry Opposition walked out over the government’s failure to circulate the Bills in advance.

“The parliamentary affairs minister is very skilful. I hope you must not use your skill to do certain things which are not correct,” Patil said.

CPM’s V. Radhakrishan regretted the government’s “tendency to treat the House like a rubber stamp”. “Why was the government sleeping' They had ample time. Are you not ashamed' You ask us to sit here at your whims and fancies,” he said.

The Bills were not listed in the day’s agenda as is the practice. Several Opposition members also criticised the government for not circulating the Bills two days before introduction.

The Congress, the Left parties, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Indian Union Muslim League questioned the government’s “style of functioning” and accused it of flouting all norms.

The Bills, however, could be introduced after Patil toned down the attack later. When deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and law minister Arun Jaitley stood up to introduce the Bills, the Opposition walked out of the House.

In the government’s defence, Swaraj said the Bills needed to be introduced so these could be sent to the respective standing committees for a thorough assessment.

More embarrassment was in store for the government in the Rajya Sabha. The government was forced to defer an official resolution on rejection of the board of arbitration award enhancing pay-scales of census officials in the face of stiff opposition.

After heated arguments between treasury and Opposition benches, minister of state for home I.D. Swami said the Centre would defer the resolution till more facts were placed before the House.

Earlier, addressing the press, Swaraj said 16 Bills were cleared during this session which had only 37 sittings because of several holidays. Yet, only 10.35 hours were lost in the Lok Sabha compared with 63.24 hours in the same session last year.

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