With the Winter Session promising to be a rough ride for the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, a whole lot will depend on the political acumen of the senior leaders of the treasury benches in piloting crucial legislation through both houses of Parliament. (Read: NDA to boycott Chidambaram in Parliament)
For HRD minister Kapil Sibal reform is on the agenda for the education sector. He's had opposition from both within and outside but he's hoping that this 30-day session will be different. "Everyone believes in reforms so of course it will happen," Mr Sibal told NDTV a day before the winter session.
In order to build consensus, Mr Sibal has briefed MPs from not just his own Congress party, but also allies and Opposition.
Mr Sibal's list of pending bills is a long one. The Education Tribunals Bill of 2010, which is meant to resolve disputes involving, teachers, other employees, students and universities. Also on the list the Prohibition of Unfair Practices Bill, which is meant to tackle capitation and donation issues, and has already been cleared by the Cabinet. There are also other bills like the Foreign Education Providers Bill, which seeks to provide much needed regulations in the fast-expanding education sector.
Mr Sibal also hopes to fulfill one of the promiese he made when the Right to Education Bill was passed. He had been criticised for bringing in a legislation which did not include disabled children, and the HRD ministry hopes now to bring in the ammended bill in which disadvantaged children will included. Judicial Accountability Bill
The long-promised Judicial Accountability Bill is also all set to make an entry into the Parliament in this session. This bill will be replacing the Judges' Inquiry Bill of 1968.
Critics, like Anna Hazare and his team, remain skeptical about how this bill will effectively deal with judicial corruption
The main highlights of the bill include -
-setting up of a 5-member oversight committee to look into complaints against judiciary
-the committee will be headed by a former Chief Justice of India
- it will have the Attorney General as a member
- all complaints will be kept confidential
-judges will have to declare their assets and that of their spouse and their children
Law Minister Salman Khurshid said "it will be a good and effective bill" and sought to assuage the concerns of the civil society activists. Activists have problems with clauses in the bill which says the judiciary cannot make comments about the government but the Law Minister says that is a matter of debate. " All points can be debated. The bill has been tabled before. It was sent to the Standing Committee and we will try our best to have a strong law."
Activists point out that there are still many loopholes in the bill. For instance, does the judge whose removal has been recommended by the oversight committee and the Parliament, still have the right to appeal to Supreme Court. They want the government to clear these gray areas before the bill is introduced..Right to Food Bill
Another crucial piece of legislation, the Right to Food Bill on shaky ground, barely days before it is tabled in Parliament. The government still does not know how many and who will benefit.
It all began with the Planning Commission's affidavit, to the Supreme Court, in September this year, saying that Rs 25 in rural areas and Rs 32 a day in urban areas are adequate for food, health and education.
The affidavit caused a massive outrage forcing the panel to lift the ceiling. The Planning commission said it will not impose any ceilings on the number of households to be included in different govt schemes. Entitlements and the elgibility of rural households would now be determined after the Socio-Economic Caste Census, being conducted by the Rural Development Ministry. The results of that census are expected only by January 2012.
This change has led to sharp disagreements between the Planning Commission, the Food Ministry and Chief Ministers of various states on issues like corruption in Public Distribution Scheme, the number of poor in each state and the mechanisms adopted for identifying beneficiaries, and delivery of benefits. The Prime Minister will soon be meeting all chief ministers to take stock of the situation
More deserving households, including the transient poor, may now find place in the government's schemes. The fresh parameters, which sources tell NDTV have been pushed by both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi are -
 Automatically excluded: If you pay income tax, earn more than Rs 10,000 a month you are ineligible. However the controversial parametres are that even if you own a two wheeler, a landline-phone or a refrigerator, you'll be excluded.
 Automatically included: The destitute, homeless and primitive tribal groups among others
would be automatically included. Each household would be eligible for 7 kilograms of grain.
 Deprivation criteria - This category of deprived household is expected to cover the transient poor. Households having a person with disability, people without shelter and families run by a single woman would be counted as deprived among others. Households with one deprivation would get 5 kilograms of grain; those with 2 would get 6 kilograms and households with 3-7 deprivations would get 7 kilograms of grain.
The government plans to bring about 30 new bills. About 24 bills, including the Lokpal Bill, are pending.
With Opposition all set to move adjournment motions on issues like price rise and black money, and the NDA and Left working out a coordinated floor strategy, it remains to be seen how man of these bill will actually be introduced and passed into law, before December 21.