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Member of Parliament, Wife Arrested for Torturing and Killing Housemaid

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured the smooth functioning of the 12-day pre-election Winter Session of the Parliament this year, the Opposition is training guns to extend the sitting for crucial bills on Telangana and Communal Violence.

"We will do everything to ensure that both Houses of Parliament run smoothly. We seek cooperation of all segments in the houses," Dr Singh said, after attending the all party meet on Tuesday before the session.

The session will begin on 5 December and end on 20 December. However, Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha) Sushma Swaraj made it clear that several political parties have unanimously pitched for an extension to discuss contentious issues, such as the proposed 'Rayala-Telangana' bill or coal allocation scam.

"The suggestion was that we should have a break in the session and resume again as it's a short session. We will talk to leaders in the Rajya Sabha and take this up," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath told CNN-IBN.

Swaraj announced that the session is likely to be extended after a week-long break from 20 December onwards.

Here are some of the top issues expected to be tabled for this years' Winter Session:

Telangana Bill

There is still doubt whether the Telangana bill would be introduced during this session but the Opposition has been gearing for a debate on the proposed 29th state of India, since it was endorsed by the Congress in July.

The Congress Core Committee has favoured the introduction of this bill and so has Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. Even Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who heads the Group of Minister (GoM) assigned to draft this bill, has assured that the proposal would be launched in the Parliament this year.

"Our government is committed to the formation of Telangana," Dr Singh said as he exited from the all-party meeting on Tuesday.

However, the issue will stimulate a stormy debate that might defer other important bills to be tabled during the short winter session as several political parties are expected to reject the bill in its present form.

The proposed bill redraws boundaries of Telangana region as 'Rayala-Telangana' with two additional districts from Rayalaseema region - Anantapur and Kurnool. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), along with Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) - which enjoys control in the Telangana region - and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), have condemned the bill in its present form.

India-Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement Bill

Under the bill, India will exchange 111 of its enclaves in Bangladesh for 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India, meaning India would give up claims for a little more than 17,000 acres of land that would be transferred to Bangladesh. In turn 7,000 acres of land in Bangladesh would then join the Indian territory.

This will be another issue that would stir a fiery debate in the Parliament this session as Opposition parties - the BJP and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) - have vowed to oppose the amendment bill.

The BJP's main argument being that Centre cannot alter India's boundary as 'after 1973 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Keshavanand Bharti case the basic structure of the Constitution cannot be changed'.

Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill

The proposed bill has been prepared by National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and has Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa as its strongest critic.

The controversial bill, which supposedly treads on the authority of States, is aimed to protect minorities from communal or targeted attacks. The bill, which has been hanging in the Parliament for some years, got a fresh push in the backdrop of Muzaffarnagar riots that claimed lives of 47 people in August and September.

"Law and Order is a State subject under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution and any attempt to interfere with the State government's power is totally unacceptable," Jayalalithaa said in a statement on Monday.

The bill received disapproval from BJP leaders, especially Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha) Arun Jaitley.

"The Bill was highly discriminatory since it discriminated against the majority and minority on basis of birth marks. It gave unguided power to authorities proposed to be created and loaded the redressal and accountability mechanism in favour of one community against the other on the basis of religion. In the meeting of the National Integration Council held in 2011, Chief Ministers cutting across party lines opposed this Bill on the ground that it would be destructive of the federal structure of the Constitution," Jaitley said in statement on Tuesday.

The Women's Reservation Bill

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister has announced that passing of this bill, which has been long-debated in the past few years, will be a priority for the UPA government.

The bill proposes to set aside one-third of the state legislatures and Parliament seats for women representatives.

The draft was passed in Rajya Sabha on March 2010 but failed to even be introduced in the Lok Sabha. Interestingly, the Opposition parties have backed the proposed bill but not regional parties like Rashtriya Janata Dal, whose leader Lalu Prasad Yadav was convicted in the Fodder scam and jailed, and Samajwadi Party.

This year, UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar has urged PM Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to introduce the bill in the Parliament.

Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011

This is another priority bill for the UPA before its five-year term ends in April. The Lokpal bill proposes to set up independent anti-corruption agencies at national and state level.

In December 2011, the bill was subsequently tabled and passed in the upper house Rajya Sabha, after a marathon debate.

In May 2012, the bill underwent minor changes by a special committee and will be re-introduced in the upper house. If passed with majority, the proposed Lokpal bill will be introduced in the Lok Sabha.

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