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Country can’t wait if one House of Parliament does not work

Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: With the government pushing key reform measures like insurance and coal block allocation, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the country cannot wait even if one of the Houses of Parliament “waits indefinitely”.

Jaitley, a key strategist of BJP, suggested that the government may go to the extent of calling a joint session if the insurance bill is again blocked in the Upper House in the next session. The ruling party currently does not have the numbers in Rajya Sabha.

“The (insurance) Ordinance demonstrates the firm commitment and determination of government to reforms. It also announces to the rest of the world, including investors, that this country can no longer wait even if one of the Houses waits indefinitely to take up its own agenda,” he said after a meeting of the Union Cabinet.

The Cabinet cleared the ordinance to increase FDI cap from 26 to 49 per cent in the insurance sector and re- promulgated the ordinance to allow resumption of coal block allocation.

Both the measures could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha in the Winter Session that concluded yesterday, marred by disruptions over religious conversion and other issues.

Noting that “stalemate and obstructionism cannot go on in perpetuity”, Jaitley also suggested that the government could go to the extent of even convening a Joint Session of Parliament if the bill was stalled once again in the Budget Session.

“If Parliament is not allowed to function, the framers of the Constitution had then made provisions so that decision- making does not come to a halt,” he said.

Without referring to joint session, Jaitley said, “There is still a mechanism” even if one of the Houses does not pass a measure.

When again asked about the possibility of convening such a session, he said, “Why don’t you read the Constitution? … You seem to know the answer.”

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