Monsoon Session set for stormy start
New Delhi: Two contentious pieces of legislation, on women`s reservation and civil nuclear liability, are among 59 bills listed for consideration during the Monsoon session of Parliament beginning on Monday.
Parties opposed to the Women`s Reservation Bill are ready for battle in the Lok Sabha where it is to be tabled, while the Left and BJP said they will contest the nuclear bill tooth and nail.
The bill seeking to reserve for women 33 percent of seats in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies was passed by the Rajya Sabha March 9 amidst vociferous protest from the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
The Samajwadi Party, led by Mulayam Singh Yadav said his party would continue its opposition to the bill unless the government evolves a consensus among parties concerned.
"Our demand for quota for backwards, Dalits and minorities within the bill still exists. Nothing short of that will be accepted," Samajwadi Party` senior MP Shailendra Kumar told a news agency.
He said senior party leaders are in touch with leaders of other parties opposed to the bill in its present form.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the government hopes to introduce the Women`s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha during the monsoon session after holding "consultations" with the parties opposed to it.
The Trinamool Congress, led by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, the second largest party in the Congress-led ruling alliance, has also opposed the bill in its present form.
However, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties want the bill to pass in its present form.
The contentious Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010, was introduced in the Lok Sabha during the budget session. It was referred to the parliament`s standing committee on science and technology after fierce opposition from major political parties including the BJP and Left. The bill fixes the maximum amount of liability in case of a nuclear accident at Rs 500 crore, to be paid by the operator of the nuclear plant.
The legislation makes the operator exclusively liable in case of an accident, but there is no mention of the suppliers` liability.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has demanded that the bill should not be proceeded with in Parliament.
"The bill does not protect the interests of the Indian people nor assures their lives and safety," the CPI-M central committee has said in a statement.
The BJP also said the party would oppose the bill.
"The bill should be withdrawn. The bill is not for the people of India. The bill should not be moved in the wake of the recent Bhopal gas tragedy verdict that handed out a meagre penalty to the convicted, 25 years after the incident," BJP spokesman Ramnath Kovind told a news agency.
Three other bills listed for consideration are: Securities and Insurance Laws (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010; the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010; and the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2010. These bills are to replace three ordinances.
The Left has already opposed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2010. It alleges that the central government has violated "minimum democratic norms" in dissolving the Medical Council of India (MCI) through an ordinance, bypassing the rights of state governments.
MR Madhavan of the PRS-Legislative Research said several bills have been pending for a long time.
"It is not clear whether there is a political consensus to take forward the bills like Women`s Reservation Bill and the civil nuclear liability bill," Madhavan told the news agency.
The Monsoon session, which concludes Aug 24, will have 24 sittings spread over 33 days. Among the 59 bills to be taken up are 36 new bills, including the Goods and Service Tax Bill and the Direct Tax Code Bill.
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