New Delhi: Despite several disruptions over FDI in retail and promotion quota bill issues, the Winter Session of Parliament (Nov 22-Dec 20) was better than the previous Monsoon Session, during which 13 out of 20 days were washed out to protests over faulty coal block allocations, the government said Thursday. "This was a better session," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told IANS.
"It was a fruitful session as key economic reform bills were passed," Minister for State for parliamentary affairs Rajeev Shukla told IANS.
According to Shukla, the most challenging moments for the government during the session were getting Parliament's endorsement for allowing 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retail and getting the bill promising reservation to dalits and tribals in government job promotions passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Both the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which support the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) from outside, helped the government defeat a concerted effort by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India-Marxist to corner it politically on the foreign equity in retail issue. With this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, who took over Oct 28, passed his first major floor management test.
But the SP did not allow the promotion quota bill to be passed in the Lok Sabha despite several attempts by the government to convince it on the issue. The Lok Sabha was shocked Dec 19 when SP member Yashvir Singh snatched the bill from the hands of Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy provoking an unusually aggressive Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to try to snatch it back from him.
The SP member regretted his act before the speaker on the last day of the session, settling the issue. The bill would now be taken up in the Budget Session scheduled in February 2013.
Earlier, furious over a delay in passing of the legislation, BSP chief Mayawati took on Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari saying running the house was his responsibility.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram's key reform bills - the Banking Laws Amendment Bill, the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debt Laws Amendment Bill and the Prevention of Money Laundering bill were passed in both the houses along with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act Amendment Bill. The Companies Bill was passed only in the Lok Sabha.
The session also approved Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) for 2012-13 and passed the related Appropriation Bill.
However, the Insurance Laws Bill to raise the foreign equity cap to 49 percent from 26 percent and the Direct Taxes Code Bill could not be taken up. The government had identified around 25 bills for passing in the Winter Session.
The Monsoon Session August 8-September 7 was washed out after the BJP did not allow parliament to function over faulty coal block allocations, demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation. The government could get only six bills introduced and six passed by either house of Parliament in the Monsoon Session, which lost 13 out of 20 working days to disruptions.
Among other key developments in the Winter Session, the Trinamool Congress, which left the UPA in September over FDI in retail issue, was isolated and could not move its no-confidence motion against the government.
Shocked over the torture and gang rape of a young woman in Delhi, the Parliament condemned the ghastly incident in one voice and even directed the government to take stringent steps to punish the rapists and ensure the women were better protected.