The Monsoon session of Parliament beginning on Monday is expected to be a tumultuous affair with opposition stacking up all ammunition ranging from price rise, fuel hike, Bhopal gas tragedy and the Indo-Pak talks to attack the government.
The spate of rail accidents with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee in the eye of a storm over her absence from Delhi could also derail the proceedings of Parliament so also unrest in Kashmir and the Maoist violence.
Test to patience
Being held in the backdrop of Bharat Bandh on July 5, which showed the Opposition making a common cause for the ‘aam aadmi’ on the issue of price rise, the month-long session could test the patience of government as several issues were agitating the non-Congress parties.
With Assembly elections in Bihar not far away, rival sides are expected to make the best use of the session. While the opposition will seek to embarrass the government on the issue of spiralling prices, the Congress and the RJD-LJP could raise the latest alleged scam involving the Nitish Kumar government.
Illegal mining scam
Congress, on its part, is planning to target the BJP over the illegal mining scam in Karnataka.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi recently held the first eve-of-the-session consultations with its alliance partners since UPA-II returned to power which showed that the ruling alliance does not want to leave anything to chance.
The Congress could utilise the alleged involvement of Hindu groups and also Communal Violence Bill to drive a wedge in the opposition unity by targeting the BJP.
Women’s Reservation Bill
While the contentious Women’s Reservation Bill was not on the priority agenda of the government for the session, the measure could also be utilised to break the opposition unity.
The RJD, LJP and Samajwadi Party are against the Bill in its present form. The Bill had already been passed by the Rajya Sabha.
“Price rise will be a key issue for us,” BJP leaders said, adding that the party will stage a march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhawan to submit 10 crore signatures to President Pratibha Patil on July 29.
The cases of alleged financial irregularities in IPL, relations with Pakistan and recent controversy over Foreign Minister-level talks, the Naxal threat and the law and order situation in Kashmir will also be highlighted by the opposition.
The 2-G spectrum allocation controversy will also be taken up by BJP in the monsoon session. “The gap between 3-G and 2-G spectrum has shown the extent of the scam and we will raise this issue again in this session,” they said.
Another issue which could generate heat in the session is the inclusion of caste in census. JD(U),RJD, SP and LJP are strong votaries of such an inclusion.
JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav had shot off an “angry” letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee last week alleging “delaying tactics” on the part of the government on the issue.
Government has also initiated consultations with opposition to seek its support for uniform taxation across the country in the wake of absence of a consensus over implementation of Goods and Services Tax.
Mr. Mukherjee, who is the Leader of Lok Sabha, has already expressed government’s readiness to discuss any matter on the floor of the House.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has convened a meeting of leaders of political parties on Sunday to ensure smooth functioning of Parliament.
Among the bills on the priority agenda of the government is the one seeking to increase the salary and allowances of Members of Parliament, Civil Nuclear Liability Bill and the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill.