Opposition for extending Rajya Sabha session, government considering

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New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) Opposition members in the Rajya Sabha on Monday urged the government to extend the session of the house to discuss and pass bills, and informed sources said the request is being looked at seriously.

The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha when it met after lunch on Monday, and Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien also urged the government to examine the opposition’s request.

Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad told the government on the floor of the house that the session should be extended if bills have to be passed, and added that there can be no compromise on the time of debate on the general and railway budgets.

This issue was raised after the government listed the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016, as supplementary business in the house.

“If you want more bills. increase the time of the session,” Azad said.

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“Government is trying not to get the Aadhaar bill (in the Rajya Sabha) so that it becomes law,” said Azad referring to the bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha on Friday and has been termed a money bill.

The Rajya Sabha has no role in passing money bills, and once passed by thed Lok Sabha, it becomes a law even if the upper house does not pass the bill orreturn it within 14 days. The upper house also has no right to amend a money bill.

Azad said the bill should be discussed even if it is just for a hour.

“Keep it (debate on Aadhaar bill) for day after, even if an hour long discussion,” he said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi assured the opposition that the government is ready to discuss the Aadhaar bill whenever the opposition wants, but did not comment on extension of the Rajya Sabha session.

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Kurien urged the government to look into the opposition’s request.

“I think, informally and even formally there were suggestions from the members, that if the government wants, the memebrs are agreeable for extending the house for passing the bills, that aspect also government can examine if they want,” he said.

Attacking the government, Azad said: “This is for the first time opposition wants to pass the bills and wants to extend session but government is not coming forward.”

In response, Naqvi said they are discussing the issue with different political parties.

“It was only the suggestion of Leader of Opposition… They had suggested it and we have talked to different political parties. Different political parties have not agreed to it… we are still talking,” he said.

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According to sources, the government has not yet taken a decision but the opposition’s request is being considered for extending the Rajya Sabha session by two days.

“Some parties have reservations, the process is on. The session may be extended,” a minister who did not want to be named told IANS.

The government, which is facing heat in the upper house because it is in minority, decided to bring the Aadhaar bill as a money bill as it makes the upper house debate and vote on it inconsequential. This has invited widespread criticism from the opposition parties.

Opposition members have also alleged that the government does not want to debate the bill in the upper house at all, and are insisting that it should be taken up.

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