CAS bill debate not likely before next week

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: The Cable TV Regulation Amendment Bill 2002 was again listed in the agenda of Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of the Indian Parliament) for today as the third issue.

But, government officials told around noon that the issue was highly unlikely to be taken up for discussion today as the Gujarat election issue and the recent terrorist attacks in Jammu is consuming most of the allotted time for debate.

Even information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj, who interacted with journalists today to brief them about the Cabinet meeting held yesterday, was non-comittal chances of the on the CAS issue being discussed in the Rajya Sabha today. CAS was listed in the No. 7 slot yesterday.

As things stand, CAS is unlikely to come up for discussion before next Monday because there are other issues and bills ahead in the queue for discussion tomorrow as well. And Friday is out of the question as the last day of the working week is reserved for the discussion of private member's bills.

It is also learnt from political sources in the Capital that the government (read Swaraj) is yet to get 100 per cent assurance from the Opposition-dominated Rajya Sabha, especially the Congress Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), on the CAS issue.

Therefore, in all probability it will come up for discussion on Monday (I&B ministry's day in RS) or some other week day next week. Unless of course Swaraj and parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan pull some aces out of their sleeves to gain an out-of-parliament consensus on the issue of CAS.

A senior Rajya Sabha MP belonging to the CPM said that Swaraj had held some discussions earlier on CAS, but in recent times the matter has not been discussed between his party and the BJP-led government.

Rajya Sabha members have been saying that in principle they are not opposed to CAS or its implementation. But what they have been demanding is that the issue is discussed in the Upper House and pros and cons examined before RS okays the amendments.

The Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) has already okayed the amendments to the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act 1995, envisaging bringing addressability in Indian cable homes, during the last session of parliament through a voice vote.

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