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  • Aditi Phadnis - Political Editor, Business Standard

    Aditi Phadnis

    Political Editor, Business Standard

    DATE: March 21, 2016, 12:00 PM

    SUBJECT: Assessing the Budget session of Parliament




    Hello and welcome to the webchat with Aditi Phadnis on her interpretation of Parliament's Budget session

  • D


    When is the GST bill expected to come up, and when is it likely to be passed? Also, how did the government manage to make the Aadhar Bill a Money Bill?


    The GST bill should come up in the middle or end of the remainder of the budget session and should be passed then. The Finance Minister has already said he expects it to be passed by the end of the budget session because the composition of the Rajya Sabha will change slightly in the government's favour. The Aadhar bill was made a money bill leveraging the government's majority in the Lok Sabha and the rule that the Speaker has to certify whether the bill is a money bill or not; and her ruling cannot be questioned.

  • V


    What is your overall assessment of the Parliament's Budget Session? What are the hits and misses?


    To be completely honest, I had not expected a lot from the first half of the budget session and in the beginning it seemed that was the case. But the speed and alacrity with which the opposition has facilitated the passage of bills towards the end of the session suggests they too are realizing that disruption is a strategy with diminishing returns. That said, The opposition still has the legitimate instrument of referring bills to standing committees for deeper study. That is what it will follow in the RS. But overall, mostly hits, and few misses.

  • P


    With the upcoming elections in five states, do you think the equation can change for the government in the Rajya Sabha where it lacks majority? Can we then see passage of crucial bills?


    Let us see this in perspective. It is only with constitutional amendment bills such as GST that the government has a serious Rajya Sabha problem. With normal bills that require just 50 per cent majority, it has a variety of instruments at its disposal - asking 'friendly' opposition parties to stay away from the house, thus bringing down the threshold of passing percentage; getting some parties to abstain in return for other favours; etc. Remember the Coal mining ordinance? How hard Piyush Goel worked to convince opposition parties that the ordinance would be in their favour? You had the BJP make speeches that argued against the ordinance and the government - but end up supporting the ordinance so it got cleared. Those kinds of strategies depend entirely on the skills of the government... how it deploys them.

  • M


    Although some bills have been passed, there have been differences surrounding the GST Bill, especially with regards to upper threshold. What are your views on the same?


    I am not sure what the threshold should be - there are big differences even within the government (viz the views of CEA and the actual provisions in the bill ) But the government will not be allowed to ram through something that is not popular - and it realizes that as well.

  • S


    There is no end to the political impasse in Jammu & Kashmir. By when do you think Jammu & Kashmir will see the next government? Mehbooba Mufti and the NDA haven't reached an agreement yet.


    I think there is I-can-outstare-you game going on. I don't think there is any serious difficulty in forming the government - just that Mehbooba has to display her 'extreme' reluctance in forming a government with the BJP. Trust me, the option is staying in government is better than allowing the government to collapse leading to President's Rule and elections....

  • A


    With the Money Bill route used to clear Aadhar, do you think the govt will use this often to clear important and contentious bills? Or was this done just to prove a point to the Opposition?


    I HOPE the government doesn't use this route - it undermines democracy, politics and in some ways, shows the inefficiency of the government. After all, in the past too, governments with majority in the lower house but not in the upper house have passed legislation and it has been with the consent or disagreement of the opposition in the upper house. You are right, it was a way to show up the opposition - hope it doesn't happen too often.

  • V


    Will the implementation of the seventh Pay Commission be a smart move by the government to win back confidence and boost its political clout, especially in the wake of assembly elections across various states?


    Well, the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission is not a matter of choice but a compulsion. And frankly, awards of this kind are now taken for granted by employees. I think what is much more important is the record of governance of the state governments and what else the centre can come up with to woo the poor - because ultimately it is the poor that stand between victory and defeat for any government. Which is why the PM is repeating the vikas mantra....


    Thank you, Aditi for answering the questions. Hope to see you soon again


    Thank you!