44 bills in 16 days of parliament: Will opposition play ball?

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) The Aug 5-30 monsoon session of parliament could see a battle of political wits with the government listing 44 bills for the lonly 16 working days available. These include the food security bill, those related to reforms in the insurance and pension sectors and an amendment to the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its ambit. But the big question is: Will the opposition, riled over a variety of issues, play ball?

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also stepped into the picture, hoping that the monsoon session would be "constructive and productive" and sought cooperation of all political parties for this.

"We expect a constructive and productive session of parliament...I sincerely hope all sections of the house will cooperate in making this a very productive, constructive session," the prime minister told reporters after an all-party meet called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Saturday to ensure parliament's smooth running.

Meanwhile, responding to the opposition's contention that the session, scheduled to last till Aug 30, would, in practice, have just 12 working days available against the estimated 16 to take up the 44 listed bills, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Saturday hinted it could be extended, if needed.

After an all-party meeting on Thursday, Kamal Nath said all parties wanted the smooth running of parliament but expressed their concerns, especially related to erosion of parliament's supremacy as a result of a Supreme Court order on criminals in politics.

Leaders belonging to the Left parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have expressed concern over the implications of a court order disqualifying a legislator if convicted in a criminal case and barring those arrested from contesting the polls.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was also present during the meeting, said the government is likely to make a statement on the issue.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which disrupted the budget session demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation over the faulty allocation of coal bocks, has said it does not want to disrupt the monsoon session.

Kamal Nath said the opposition parties want to pass the judicial commission bill, which deals with appointment of judges, in this session.

The opposition wants debates on the land acquisition bill, the state of the economy, rampant corruption in the mid-day meal scheme, floods in Uttarakhand, the ongoing tussle between the CBI and the IB in the Ishrat Jahan shootout case and Chinese intrusions into the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

The opposition leaders are also concerned over another Supreme Court order barring reservation in super-speciality courses in medical colleges.

While the BJP has demanded that the bill on the formation of a Telangana state be brought in the monsoon session, the CPI-M wants discussion on the government's recent move to allow more foreign equity in many sectors.

Kamal Nath said the monsoon session will have 16 sittings during which 44 bills are planned to be taken up for consideration while six are to be withdrawn and 14 are to be introduced.

The question is: How much can be achieved?

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