Sagar’s Bill may unite NC, PDP but divide Cong in Assembly
Bills seeking regularization of contractual employment, ban on inter-district recruitment coming up today
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Apr 4: Government’s Bill No: 1 of 2009, that will be moved by Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, for consideration and passage, is likely to force Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to end its boycott to the proceedings in Legislative Assembly on Monday and also, for the first time in 15 months, bring Mehbooba Mufti’s and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s parties on one side. It is, however, likely to divide the coalition partner Congress in two groups---one of them, led by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand, strongly opposing the legislation seeking ban on recruitment of government job aspirants of one district in another district.
With 11 Government Bills coming up for consideration and passage on the last day of the Budget Session, Legislative Assembly is likely to witness a united house on Monday for the principal ruling party, NC, and the principal Opposition party, PDP, first time in the last 15 months. Bill No: 1 of 2009, seeking ban on inter-district recruit, is scheduled to be moved for consideration and passage by Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Mohammad Sagar, obviously under strong pressure from a consortium of five MLA of Kupwara districts. Besides independent MLA from Langet, Er Sheikh Abdul Rashid, and PDP’s one-odd MLA of Lolab, Abdul Haq Khan, this alliance of legislators has three MLA, namely Chowdhary Mohamamd Ramzan, Mir Saifullah and Kafeel-ur-Rehman, from NC. They have been sponsoring a mass agitation since last year.
This confluence of the interest of Kashmir-based political parties has already forced PDP to call off its indefinite boycott to the Business in Assembly that the party had declared over Chief Minister’s “non-seriousness towards Legislature” and alleged withdrawal of security cover to one of its Pulwama-based leaders. Sources in PDP said that all 21 of its members, excluding Nizam-ud-din Bhat, whose brother-in-law has died in Bandipora yesterday, would remain present in Assembly to speak and vote in favour of the Bill. “We have our doubts that two Congress MLAs, namely Abdul Majid Wani and Ashok Kumar, have moved their amendments only to derail the process and hand over the Bill yet again to another select committee. But, in case NC remains silent or supportive of another select committee, it will expose the ruling party and give us the desired dividends in the Valley”, said a senior PDP leader.
NC sources, however, insisted that it was a Government Bill and there was no question of its derailment to another select committee. “It has been already thoroughly examined by a sub committee that had representatives not only from NC and PDP but also from Congress, BJP and Panthers Party. All the controversial issues have been addressed”, said a senior NC leader and Cabinet Minister. He sought to clarify that Wani’s and Kumar’s amendments had come in their private capacity and maintained that a consensus had been already achieved over the Bill between the coalition partners. “There has been hectic political activity and senior leaders at Congress high command have taken Deputy Chief Minister Mr Tara Chand into confidence. His concern for Scheduled Castes is being addressed appropriately”, he added. According to him, Government was immediately going to reserve existing six Assembly segments, reserved for SCs, for further 10 years. He said that there was a possibility of the division of opinion among the Congress members and some of them may chose to remain absent but, according to him, large number of NC’s and PDP’s members, besides legislators like Er Rashid, Hakeem Yasin and Mohamamd Yusuf Tarigami were evidently supportive of the legislation.
Mr Tara Chand, who spent two days in New Delhi to discuss this crucial legislation with the Congress high command, could not be reached for his comments as his mobile phone was permanently switched off. However, one of the senior leaders of the party, believed to be close to Deputy Chief Minister, told Early Times that the coalition partners (Congress and NC) had secretly decided to bring the Bill only to break the PDP’s boycott and assuage the feelings of Kupwara MLAs. He disclosed that the Bill would be passed on to a proposed sub committee of 9 MLAs of different political parties. “No less a person than Chief Minister has been convinced on the strategy by Congress high commands and he has agreed to (derail) it”, he claimed.
The Bill will need simply majority of the members present at the time of voting for its passage in Assembly.
Sagar’s Bill will be the first among 11 Government Bills to come up for discussion in the Assembly on Monday immediately after the Business of Question Hour, five calling attention motions of Tarigami, Sharief Niaz, Nazir Gurezi, Basharat Bukhari and Sukhvinder, is over. It will be also preceded by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s laying of the half-yearly report on State Vigilance Organisation on the table of the House and Chairman of House Committee on Ethics, Mir Saifullah, submitting another report to the Assembly.
Significantly, after a debate on the issue for eight months, Minister of Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather, will be moving for consideration and passage the Bill seeking regularization of the services of those completing seven years of engagement on adhoc, contractual and consolidated arrangement. Those working in PSUs and all those not appointed against a clear vacancy in Government departments would not be entitled to the benefit.
While as Sagar is scheduled to move a Bill for amendment in anti-corruption laws and Minister of Tourism, Rigzin Jora, would move a Bill for preservation of the heritage sites and structures, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah would bring up a legislation to prevent power pilferage in the state. All the eleven Bills have been already introduced in Assembly.