- The last session was held soon after PM's return to power by a landslide
- The winter session takes place amid concerns over economic slowdown
- This will be first session since state polls in Maharashtra, Haryana
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he hoped for "frank discussions on all matters" and high quality debates, in his remarks ahead of the Winter Session that started on Monday.
"We want frank discussions on all matters. It is important that there should be quality debates, there should be dialogues and discussions, everyone should contribute to enrich the discussions in the Parliament.," PM Modi told reporters.
"This is the last Parliament session of 2019. It is very important because this is the 250th Parliament session of the Rajya Sabha. During this session, on 26th, we will observe the Constitution Day - when our Constitution completes its 70 years." PM Modi will address Rajya Sabha today at 2 pm to mark 250th session of the House.
The Rajya Sabha will have a special discussion marking the 250th session of this august House.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) November 18, 2019
PM @narendramodi will be speaking in the House at around 2 PM.
The winter session, which will overlap with the Jharkhand election, will end on December 13. It takes place amid concerns over an economic slowdown, job losses, farm crisis and the continued detention of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.
This is the first session since the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections, in which the BJP emerged as the largest party but has been forced to accept less-than-desirable circumstances. In Haryana, it had to tie up with bitter critic Dushyant Chautala to form the government and in Maharashtra, its ally Shiv Sena has walked out of their decades-old partnership over its demand for a vastly improved share in power, including rotational chief ministership. The Shiv Sena is in talks with opposition parties NCP and the Congress for an unlikely alliance.
In the budget session, held soon after PM Modi's return to power by a landslide, the government pushed key bills, including one to enact the end of special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and another to make 'triple talaq' - the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" thrice to get a divorce - became a punishable offence. The government introduced and passed a record 28 bills -- the highest for any session in a decade.
"In the previous session, unprecedented achievements took place, not only because of the treasury benches but also because of the positive role played by all parties," said the Prime Minister.
Among the 50 bills listed for this session is the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which the government was unable to pass in its previous tenure. The bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan if they fled their respective countries due to religious persecution.
The bill was sharply criticized by the opposition and blocked in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA is in a minority. This time, the Shiv Sena has shifted to the opposition benches and is likely to make life difficult for PM Modi's party after a breakdown in relations over government formation in Maharashtra.
At an all-party meeting on Sunday, opposition parties raised issues like the economy and the continued detention of Kashmiri leaders since the Article 370 decision.
The parties said Farooq Abdullah, a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister detained in Kashmir, should be allowed to attend the session.