Opposition demands Women’s quota Bill

| | New Delhi
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Opposition demands Women’s quota Bill

Monday, 18 September 2023 | Deepak Upreti | New Delhi

A day before the Special Parliament Session called by the Modi-Government, the Opposition leaders in an all-party meeting on Sunday urged the Government to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill in the new Parliament building as no “new agenda” was revealed by the ruling party  during the discussion.

The Floor leaders of all major parties attended the meet at the Library building of old Parliament as the Government briefed them on the issues before  the five-day Session and heard the Opposition’s views.

Several regional parties including Odisha’s ruling party — BJD and Telangana’s ruling party — BRS demanded for tabling of the Women’s Reservation Bill.

The same demand was echoed by NCP leader Praful Patel. He said they were briefed that Parliament will shift to adjacent new building on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi on September 19.

A separate meeting of the Floor leaders have been called by Leaders of House of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on Monday before the Session begins in the existing Parliament. There was no new agenda other than the five Bills which were earlier put on the table by the Government.

Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, after the all-party meeting, said, “All Opposition parties demanded passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in this Parliament Session.”

The Special Session begins against the backdrop of the Narendra Modi Government’s recent success at the just-concluded G20 summit, controversies surrounding anti-Sanatan Dharma remarks, the India versus Bharat debate, and the ongoing demands of the Opposition on a range of issues, including unemployment, inflation, the Manipur crisis, and the escalation of tensions along the Indo-China border.

While Prime Minister Modi will initiate the Session in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Leader of House in the Ràjya Sabha, Union Minister Piyush Goyal, will start it in the Ràjya Sabha. 

There is also intense buzz on whether the Government will have some ‘surprise’ item for the Opposition during the Session that will see a discussion on Parliament’s 75-year journey and take up for consideration four Bills, including the controversial Bill on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners.

On Sunday, Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar hoisted the national flag at the new Parliament building. Flanked by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, he hoisted the flag atop the “Gaja Dwar” of the new Parliament building.

The hoisting ceremony took place a day before Parliament Session begins on Monday which may see parliamentary proceedings shift from the old to the adjacent new building.

Earlier, Dhankhar and Birla were separately accorded a guard of honour by the CRPF’s Parliament Duty Group.

The event was attended by Birla, Union Ministers Pralhad Joshi, Piyush Goyal, Arjun Ram Meghwal among other, however, Congress chief and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and party MP Rahul Gandhi were absent.

Kharge said he received late invitation for the event and it was difficult for him to join as he was in Hyderabad for his party’s meeting. Although, the Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, took part in the event. 

Defence Minister and Deputy Leader of Lok Sabha Rajnath Singh, Union Minister and Leader of Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi were present at the all party meeting on the day when the ruling party and its members were celebrating the Modi birthday.

 From the Opposition side, the INDIA bloc, besides Adhir, Derek O’Brien from Trinamool Congress, Vandana Chavan from NCP, Farooq Abdullah from National Conference, Tiruchi Siva and Kanimozhi from DMK, Vaiko from MDMK too attended the meeting.

Other leaders including Binoy Viswam from the Communist Party of India, Vijaysai Reddy from YSRCP, Praful Patel from Ajit Pawar faction of NCP, ST Hasan from Samajwadi Party, K Keshava Rao and Nama Nageswara Rao from BRS, HD Deve Gowda from Janata Dal (S)Pinaki Misra and Sasmit Patra from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) are also present there.

 The unusual timing of the Session, which begins on Monday, has left everyone wondering, even though the main standout feature on the listed agenda is a special discussion on Parliament’s journey of 75 years starting from the “‘Samvidhan Sabha” (Constituent Assembly).

The Government has also listed the Bill on the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other election commissioners to be taken up for consideration and passage during the session.

The Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha during the last Monsoon session. The Government enjoys the prerogative of tabling in Parliament some new legislation or other items that might not have been part of the listed agenda. The five bills to be discussed during the session include The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023.

This bill was introduced in the previous monsoon session of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, despite severe opposition from the other side. The bill proposes that a three-member committee led by the Prime Minister will be responsible for appointing future chief election commissioners and election commissioners.

Besides, The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 3, laid on the table of the Lok Sabha on August 4 is also to be passed . It proposes regulation of the legal profession by only Advocates Act, 1961 and repeals the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879, while retaining a provision dealing with touts in courts.

The Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, was also passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 3 and laid on the table of Lok Sabha on August 4.

The government says it will lead to ease of doing business for media and publishing companies, simplify the process of registration, and decriminalise several colonial-era penal provisions.

Fourth is related to The Post Office Bill, 2023, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 10. The bill is in consideration and after being cleared by the Rajya Sabha it will be laid on the Lok Sabha table. It repeals the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, and provides for matters related to the functioning of the Post Office, an undertaking of the central government. 

And the fifth is The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2023  which  has been listed by the Rajya Sabha. This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha and it seeks to repeal 65 laws that are obsolete or that have been made redundant by other laws. It also corrects a minor drafting error in the Factoring Regulation Act, 2011.

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