Government seeks cooperation for passing bills under Telangana shadow (Intro Roundup)

New Delhi, Feb 3: With the final session of the 15th Lok Sabha set to begin Wednesday, the UPA government Monday sought cooperation of opposition parties in passing anti-corruption legislation amid possibility of the Telangana issue again affecting proceedings.

The BJP and CPI-M said the Congress should restrain its own members and allies from causing disruptions, referring to the Telangana protests by Congress members while the Samajwadi Party and Janata Dal-United said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government should focus on the financial business during the session.

Speaking to reporters after an all-party meeting ahead of winter session’s second half beginning Feb 5, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said there was a need to rise above politics to get the anti-corruption bills and the women’s reservation bill passed in the session, which will have 12 sittings between Feb 5 and 21.

He said the bill for creating a separate state of Telangana out of Andhra Pradesh was “a high priority for the government”.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the session despite its rejection by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. MPs from Seemandhra as the other two regions – coastal Andhra and Rayalseema – are collectively known, including those from Congress, have opposed division of the state.

Sources said that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy may meet President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday to request him not to recommend the state reorganisation bill for introduction in parliament.

Kamal Nath said parties should to make their stand clear whether they are for Telangana or against.

“There should be no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’,” he said.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Monday said he will talk to opposition leaders to ensure passage of important bills, including six anti-corruption bills.

These include the public procurement bill, the prevention of corruption act (amendment) bill, a bill to prevent bribery of foreign public officials, the judicial standards and accountability bill, the right of citizens to time-bound delivery of goods and services and redressal of their grievances bill and the whistleblowers protection bill.

“I shall talk to the opposition leaders and make them understand that both the government and the opposition will have to work together to pass the bills,” Gandhi told reporters.

Kamal Nath said said that though the 15th Lok Sabha passed a fewer bills, some historical bills were cleared.

“There is a need to rise above politics. The 15th Lok Sabha should make its place in history,” he said.

Asked if the government will present a vote-on-account or an interim budget ahead of the general elections expected in April-May, he said the “vote-on-account will be for four months”.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj said her party will support the passage of the bills if the government ensures orderly functioning of the two houses.

The government cannot blame the opposition for disruptions as its own members have been protesting on the issue of Telangana, she said, adding the Congress-led government’s grip was not only slipping “over the country but also on its own chief ministers and MPs”.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury, noting the government had 39 bills on its agenda in 12 days of business, asked it how it will ensure orderly conduct in the two houses in the wake of the conflicting views of its own members on Telangana.

JD-U leader Sharad Yadav said the government should get the financial bills passed between Feb 12 and Feb 21 as passage of other bills “looks difficult in the prevailing conditions”, while SP leader Ramgopal Yadav also said that “only financial bills should be brought” by the government.

IANS