What happens if the Government does not have majority in the Rajya Sabha?
NDA Government’s plan to get the important bills passed in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the Budget Session has got stonewalled. Modi government was cornered by the opposition parties as they enjoy a majority in the Upper House. NDA’s poor numbers in the Rajya Sabha worked against Modi, who had intended to get the wheel of reforms moving. Be it the Coal Mines Bill or the Insurance Bill, every crucial Bill got bottled up as the ruling government could not shore up enough support for the Land Acquisition Bill.
Democracy in India is all about numbers
The present Lok Sabha has the governing party as majority. With NDA having the numbers on its side, it has been able to run the Lower House by strictly adhering to the rule book. However, Rajya Sabha is a different story. The non-BJP parties have the majority in the Upper House and hence, Modi government has faced a setback when it comes to getting a clear mandate on crucial bills.
What happens to Bills?
There are two ways of looking at the possible fallout of government not having majority in the Upper House of the Parliament. Unlike money bills, which can be passed by the Lok Sabha even if the Rajya Sabha rejects them, there are some bills that need assent of both the houses. This holds is true for bills, which are not related to constitutional amendments.
Firstly, if the proposed bill is draconian and regressive in nature, the opposition can register a stronger protest and unanimously block its passage. This would lead to further debate in
Rajya Sabha and the government would feel the pressure to amend it. While in most cases, the members of the Rajya Sabha single out the anti-people clauses in proposed bills and display a genuine interest in preserving citizens’ interest, there could be occasions when the legislators simply delay the passage of bills to create a hurdle for the party in power. It is possible that the opposition parties, by virtue of majority in the Rajya Sabha, deliberately create a roadblock disallowing the present government to carry on with its reform agenda.
If the ruling government is a minority in the Rajya Sabha and the opposition does not lend its support to the proposed bill, the government can call a joint sitting of both the houses. It is under article 118 of the Constitution of India that the President calls a joint session. During such an arrangement, the total number of members becomes 795 (545 from the Lok Sabha, and 250 from the Rajya Sabha). Since the ruling party has a majority in Lok Sabha, it only expects a handful of votes from Rajya Sabha members to reach the magical figure of 400 and end the deadlock.
This is dubbed as the last resort to get the bill passed so that it can become law. However, it is not a “desirable option”. According to political analysts, opting for joint session reflects the inability on the government’s part to convince the opposition of the objectives it set out to meet