The bills, adopted with the tacit understanding of the opposition BJP, were the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Amendment Bill and the National Highways Authority of India (Amendment) Bill.
However, the government’s efforts to carry the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Bill through the Rajya Sabha did not succeed due to resistance from the Left. The Left parties insisted that it should not be cleared without a debate. The bill, passed by the Lok Sabha earlier, will allow the six new AIIMS-like institutions to start their courses this month.
The Lok Sabha proceedings began with BJP members rushing into the well to demand the prime minister’s resignation immediately after the house paid tributes to former union minister Kanshiram Rana who died last week. The BJP protestors, backed by their NDA allies, shouted slogans while Congress MPs were mostly quiet, with just three of them standing in the aisle making a feeble attempt to counter the opposition. The Rajya Sabha was disrupted by DMK and AIADMK members protesting against Sri Lankan army personnel being trained in India.
Both Houses were first adjourned until 12 noon. The Lok Sabha met again for over half-an-hour to pass the three bills. The Rajya Sabha met for a short while and was adjourned for the day.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters later that contentious bills would not be passed without the two houses being in order, implying that bills related to fiscal reform are not expected to make much progress.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also indicated that the government had no plan to take up any bill without taking the opposition into confidence.
As far as the government is concerned, a compromise with the opposition is unlikely with just four days of the session left. The government has planned a counter-offensive against the BJP over the coal block controversy. Firstly, it has started fielding one minister daily to take on the BJP. Two, it has drawn a programme to send senior party leaders to different cities to blunt the BJP propaganda after the session.