Swaraj still to garner consensus on CAS bill

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: Despite her comments to the contrary, consensus continues to elude I&B minister Sushma Swaraj on the passage of the Cable TV Regulation Amendment Bill 2002, which was again listed in the agenda of Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of the Indian Parliament) for today but failed to come up for discussions.

According to government officials, the Gujarat election issue and the recent terrorist attacks in Jammu with home minister and deputy prime minister LK Advani's reply took up most of the day. While the CAS bill is likely to be listed again tomorrow, the likelihood of it coming up for discussions remains bleak.

Swaraj was quoted by as saying: "I have talked to all the leaders, the members of the Parliament of different parties. I am hopeful that this time it will be passed, which is already listed and whatever they have to say, they will say it during discussion. I will answer. I am very hopeful that the bill will be passed."

However, political sources in the Capital said 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.

As of now, it appears that the CPM's stand is that the CAS issue should be referred to the parliamentary standing committee for full discussions.

That apart, in all probability the CAS bill 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.

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.

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.

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