What is in store at the upcoming Winter Session of the Parliament

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Winter Session in Indian Parliament

The upcoming winter session is going to a much-anticipated one given that so much has transpired in the break season. On highlights of the Parliament, there will inevitably be remarks on the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, which is unprecedented in this history of India. After that, the never-like-before economic slump, rising unemployment rates and the government’s plan to bring the Citizenship bill are some of the issues on which the discussion is worth looking forward to. As it is being said, it will also ’emerge as flashpoints’ between the majority ruling party and the opposition.

Two ordinances to be taken up in Winter Session

The winter session begins on November 18, and there is undoubtedly much in store in this session of the Parliament. Apart from the issues as mentioned earlier which are on a critical standpoint in the country today, with particular emphasis on the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, it is rumoured that the government is planning to convert two crucial ordinances into law during the upcoming winter session. Of the two, one will relate to the reduction of the corporate tax rate for the forthcoming domestic manufacturing companies. The ordinance is with a view to ‘arrest a slowdown in the economy’ and enhance growth. The ordinance was issued in September, giving effect to the new amendments in the 1961 Income Tax Act and the Finance Act, 2019. The other ordinance, being viewed to be passed as a law was also issued in September. It relates to the banned sale, manufacture and storage of e-cigarettes and similar products.

Second Session for the NDA Govt. after 2019 Election

The upcoming session is going to the be the second of the season after the Bhartiya Janta Party [BJP] led National Democratic Alliance [NDA] came back to power in the 2019 elections. As far as the last session [budget session] is concerned, it was seen as ‘the most productive session’ of the government. It saw the passing of some of the very crucial legislation, like the criminalization of instant triple talaq, an amendment to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act [UAPA] and the amendment to the Right to Information Act [RTI Act, 2005]. The previous session was the historic session in which a resolution to scrap the special status which was accorded to Jammu & Kashmir by way of Article 370, was passed. Moreover, another resolution bifurcating the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were also passed in this session. 

Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019

In the session beginning on November 18, the government is set to push for the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019. The bill has been the critical agenda for BJP aiming to change the rules of granting nationality. The bill, as proposed, suggests that citizenship will only be allowed to non-Muslim immigrants from neighbouring countries. There has been much hue and cry over the contents of the bill, criticizing it to be targeting the Muslim population, calling the intentions of the government as ‘anti-minority’ and ‘intolerant’. Once before the bill was pushed in the Parliament, but given the aggressive opposition against it, it was criticized saying it ‘discriminates based on religion’. Therefore, the bill did not see the light of the day and had lapsed in the previous session. The other religion which is included in the non-Muslim criteria is Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhist and Parsi. The neighbouring countries the immigrants of which are covered under the said Bill are Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Another criterion for granting Indian nationality as per the text of the bill states that these immigrants must have fled their original respective countries’ due to religious persecution’. 

Opposition against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019: 

There has been widespread criticism and protest against the bill, especially in the northwestern states like Assam, given that the population of immigrants are more in these regions. Different student organizations, political outfits and other socio-cultural bodies have protested because the text increases the deadline from 1971 as given in the Assam Accord and seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims, majorly the Hindus.

Speaker of the house, Om Birla conducted an all-party meeting on Saturday. He has said that it will seek answers from the government on issues such as the slowdown in the economy, distress faced by the farmers, rising unemployment, the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 and the like. Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets the upcoming session on a positive note. In his tweet, he said 

“We look forward to a productive Parliament session, where people-centric and development-oriented issues would be discussed. “

The session is expected to continue up till December 13, 2019. During the winter session, it is also planned to have a single joint sitting of both the Houses marking Constitution Day as on November 26.

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