New Minister for Labour and Environment has a doubly difficult task cut out for him

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on July 08, 2021

Bhupender Yadav, the newly anointed Labour and Environment Minister   -  THE HINDU

The BJP’s pointsman for troubleshooting will need all his negotiating skills to tackle several tricky issues in the Labour and Environment ministries

The new Union Minister for Labour and Environment, Bhupender Yadav, faces tough challenges in both the ministries assigned to him. But Yadav has always been the BJP’s pointsman to take on challenges and find solutions. The Sangh Parivar, including the BJP, valued him for his organisational role and as an effective Parliamentarian, and the ministership is seen as an acknowledgement of this appreciation of Yadav’s skills.

Yadav's name was also taking rounds for the post of BJP president as a successor to Home Minister Amit Shah. JP Nadda currently holds the post. As the chairman of various select and standing committees of Parliament, Yadav brought peace between the Centre and the Opposition on important legislations and policy matters.

Elected to the Rajya Sabha from his home State Rajasthan in 2012, Yadav has chaired select committees of Rajya Sabha on the Repealing and Amending Bill, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill (GST Bill), the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, and the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third Amendment) Bill for setting up a National Commission for Backward Classes. He was also the chairman of the Joint Committee on the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, and the Select Committee of Rajya Sabha on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill. He was chairman of standing committees such as Commerce and Law. He also served as member of various department-related panels.

On most of these controversial issues, Yadav tried to function as a bridge between the Centre, the Opposition and various other stakeholders. He conducted detailed meetings on issues such as GST with States, economists and other experts. The report tabled by the Select Committee is considered an authentic work on the concept of GST.

As an organiser of the BJP, he played a key role in its victories in the 2014 and 2019 general elections and several State Assembly elections.

Labour issues

In the Labour Ministry, he faces challenges even from his own camp, the Sangh Parivar. The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the labour wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been opposing the Centre on issues such as four Labour Codes, minimum wages and extension of work hours. The Ministry also drew flak when millions of migrant workers walked back to their villages during the first lockdown.

The Supreme Court also considered the matter and asked the Centre to come up with a concrete plan for the welfare of workers. The parliamentary panel on labour, too, took the matter seriously.

Labour Ministry forms expert group to fix minimum and floor minimum wages

Another issue is the growing unemployment in the country and the lack of related data. The Labour Bureau is holding surveys to assess the condition of workers in the unorganised sector and other areas. But this has been delayed due to pandemic.

The trade unions are also on a warpath. The defence factories’ workers have announced an indefinite strike from July 26. Initiating a dialogue between the Defence Ministry and the workers of the Ordnance Factory Board could be one of the first major tasks for Yadav in the Labour Ministry.

Environmental challenges

In the Environment Ministry, too, Yadav faces problems. The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance is set to lapse as the monsoon session begins on July 19 and the Bill is yet to get the approval of protesting farmers. Several urgent environmental cases are in the Supreme Court, including the case against evicting tribal people from forests. The draft rules of environmental impact assessment invited criticism even from BJP quarters and several State governments. Yadav may have to show his capabilities as a leading lawyer of the apex court to address these issues.

Sustaining a green future

Upholding India’s position at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, starting in Glasgow on October 31, is another task before Yadav. Third-world countries expect India to take on the developed world on the issue of climate change, and India’s position will be valued at the conference.

Published on July 08, 2021

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