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The elders have finally decided to get down to legislative business, saving Rajya Sabha from a complete washout for the second session in a row. Chairperson Hamid Ansari stepped in on Friday to get the two sides agree on taking up half a dozen non-controversial legislations, while consensus eluded the contentious Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill.

The elders have finally decided to get down to legislative business, saving Rajya Sabha from a complete washout for the second session in a row. Chairperson Hamid Ansari stepped in on Friday to get the two sides agree on taking up half a dozen non-controversial legislations, while consensus eluded the contentious Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill.Ansari’s last minute initiative to call an all-party meeting comes at the fag end of a frosty Winter Session ending on December 23. The Rajya Sabha, where the number crunch for the ruling NDA has come in the way of controversial bills, has faced frequent disruptions amidst a government-Congress face off, which intensified over the National Herald case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The productivity of the House has been 47 per cent against 100 per cent in the Lok Sabha, according to latest PRS legislative research statistics. While legislative business in the Lower House recorded 27 per cent till December 17, it was 10 per cent in the Upper House.The fate of two crucial legislations–GST, which had been on the top of government’s agenda, and the real estates bill– are caught in the government-opposition standoff over them. Meanwhile, the Opposition has agreed to passage of SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, two Appropriation Bills, Anti Hijacking Bill, Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, Commercial Courts Ordinance Bill and the Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Bill during the next week, sources said.All opposition parties gave a word to Ansari to pass the bills after he conveyed that this was one of the “most unproductive sessions”.The government and the Congress have blamed each other for the disruptions. The Congress agreed at the meeting to cooperate in passage of some bills to brush off the perception that it was blocking House in protest against the National Herald case, which it has dubbed as political vendetta by BJP.”Its the government which is not interested in smooth functioning of the House. I have also been parliamentary affairs minister. In the midst of the session, no government topples a state government. Secondly, a chief minister’s office was raided. These are signs that government does not want house to function,” leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.However, on the issue of charges against finance minister Arun Jaitley in the DDCA issue, there are indications that the Congress has dropped its aggressive stand and demand for his resignation.”We have not retracted from that issue. We are further examining papers related to it. We are studying the entire report. There is enough time,” Azad said.He stressed that the outcome of the National Herald case coming up in a metropolitan magistrate’s court on Saturday will not affect the Congress decision to cooperate in passage of the important Bills. The Opposition opted to drop all the issues in their armour for grilling the government after the Government conceded to debate intolerance.The government also agreed not to press for passage of two Bills – Whistleblower Amendment Bill and Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill– and send them to the Select Committee of the House for further scrutiny. The Opposition wants the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill also to go to the Select Committee.Jaitley unsuccessfully pleaded to include the GST Bill in the list of those agreed to be passed but he gave up after the Congress refused to budge until its conditions are met to modify it.Even if the GST bill had been passed by the Rajya Sabha next week as it has already cleared the Lok Sabha’s muster in the last session, it has now become impossible for the government to meet the next April deadline it had set to implement the tax reform.The Constitution Bill will have to be ratified by half the state legislatures and then Parliament will have to pass the GST Bill for levying the new single indirect tax and frame the rules to implement it. This is just not possible in a short time span of three months left and so the government is reconciled to push the Constitution Bill only in the budget session and plan GST from April 2017. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters that all have decided that the House should function and pass the pending government bills even by sitting late. Blame game The government and the Congress have blamed each other for the disruptions. The Congress agreed at the meeting to cooperate in passage of some bills to brush off the perception that it was blocking House in protest against the National Herald case, which it has dubbed as political vendetta by BJP.”Its the government which is not interested in smooth functioning of the House. I have also been parliamentary affairs minister. In the midst of the session, no government topples a state government. Secondly, a chief minister’s office was raided,” Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

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Sans GST, Opposition to say "ayes" to bills in RS; washout averted