Thursday, July 23, 2009

Monsoon session of legislature likely to be a stormy affair

The Hindu : Front Page : Monsoon session of legislature likely to be a stormy affair
Monsoon session of legislature likely to be a stormy affair

Nagesh Prabhu

Opposition expected to haul the Government over the coals on a variety of issues

House business: A file photo of the Legislative Assembly in session.

BANGALORE: The 12-day monsoon session of the Karnataka Legislature, beginning on Thursday, is expected to be a stormy affair with the Opposition planning to haul the Bharatiya Janata Party Government over the coals on a gamut of issues, including the recent communal clashes in Mysore, withdrawal of criminal cases against the Reddy brothers, and the controversial circular issued by the Government directing officials against attending meetings convened by leaders of the Opposition in both Houses.

The other major issues are the delay in holding Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections, the precarious power situation, the Chintana-Manthana held at a luxury resort, and implementation of welfare schemes announced in the last budget.

The session, however, will enable the Chief Minister, who holds the Finance portfolio, to get the legislature’s sanction for the demands for grants pertaining to various departments and obtain approval for the Appropriation Bill, as the State’s budget proposals for 2009-10 presented in February had only sought a vote-on-account for the four-month period ending in July.

If the ruling party is likely to face embarrassment over internal dissidence, with senior Cabinet Minister K.S. Eshwarappa, who holds the Energy portfolio, and several other Ministers such as the Bellary mining lords — Minister for Tourism and Infrastructure G. Janardhan Reddy, Minister for Revenue G. Karunakara Reddy and Minister for Health B. Sriramulu — openly raising the banner of revolt against the Chief Minister during the first anniversary celebrations, the Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) will also have to contend with their share of changes.

The former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who is Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, will undoubtedly try to show the Yeddyurappa Government in poor light.

A seasoned parliamentarian with a record of presenting budgets for several years during his tenure as Finance Minister in the previous Janata Dal regimes, Mr. Siddaramaiah is expected to put the treasury benches on the spot by raising several issues and the Government’s failures in fiscal management.
Change of guard

The Janata Dal (Secular) too has seen a change of guard with the former Public Works and Energy Minister H.D. Revanna taking over from his brother and former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy as the party’s legislature wing leader.

Incidentally, the Assembly will miss M. Mallikarjun Kharge, former Leader of the Opposition who is the Union Minister for Labour and Employment. Mr. Kharge had served as a member for over three decades and regularly attended the legislature sessions. The recent Ordinance on increasing the number of wards in the BBMP from 147 to 198 was sharply criticised by the Opposition parties as a ruse to delay the BBMP polls pending for almost three years now.

The session will debate 18 Bills. Of these, 10 are those that have already been introduced in the legislature, while two bills will come up for re-consideration.

The new bills are: Karnataka Samskrita Veda Vishwavidyalaya Bill, 2009; Karnataka Rajya Sangeeta Mattu Pradarshaka Kalegala Vishwavidyalaya Bill, 2009; Karnataka Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2009; Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage (Amendment) Bill, 2009; Karnataka Civil Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2009; and Karnataka Khadi and Village Industries (Amendment) Bill, 2009.

Leader of the Opposition in the Council V.S. Ugrappa is expected to seek an explanation from the Government on discrepancies in identification of BPL families and transfer of officials.

The recent episode of Minister for Housing and Muzrai V. Somanna allegedly assaulting an official and the allegations levelled by Mr. Eshwarappa over the distribution of money and liquor during the Lok Sabha polls may also figure in the discussions during the session.

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