The Monsoon Session of Parliament, beginning on Monday, is all set to be stormy as the Opposition has decided to raise issues such as the controversial Agnipath scheme, inflation, alleged misuse of investigating agencies to target Opposition leaders and the unemployment.
While the Centre said it is ready to discuss all important issues, the Opposition said the session is very short and the House may not be able to take up the 32 Bills listed by the Centre. There will be 18 sittings during the session, including the private members’ business on four Fridays. The session will end on August 12. The Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections will also take place during the session.
The all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Ministry here on Sunday saw exchanges between the government and the Opposition giving an indication on the issues that could reflect in the House in the coming days. The meeting was chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Senior Congressman and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told presspersons after the meeting that the Centre wants to table, discuss and pass 32 bills during 14 days available for government business in the session. “What is the government is trying to do?” he asked and added that the Opposition demanded discussions on raised 13 issues including price rise, Agnipath, attack on the federal structure of the country and misuse of investigative agencies such as ED and CBI.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said some of these 32 bills have been cleared by by department related standing committees of Parliament. He assured that no Bill will be passed without discussion. The 32 Bills include the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (Amendment) Bill, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, the Kalakshetra Foundation (Amendment) Bill, the Family Courts (Amendment), the Indian Antarctic Bill, the Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Amendment Bill, the Trafficking of Persons (Protection, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill and the Cantonment Bill.
Questions over PM’s absence
The Opposition questioned the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the meeting. “Isn’t it (the absence) unparliamentary,” asked senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. Mr. Ramesh also said that the political parties pointed out the issue of the “killing” of Forest Rights Act.
Mr. Joshi said the opposition is trying to make issues out of non-issues as they do not have anything against the Government. He said the Prime Minister never attended all-party meetings before 2014 when the Congress was in power.
Commenting on the charge that protests are banned in Parliament and several words have been added to the list of unparliamentary words, Mr. Joshi said the Opposition is trying to belittle the image of Parliament.
“No word has been barred from use in Parliament and the Lok Sabha Secretariat has been bringing out such a list of unparliamentary words since 1954,” Mr. Joshi said.
Leaders said another meeting of floor leaders of political parties in Rajya Sabha, convened by Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, was emotional. Mr. Ramesh said leaders expressed their regret at Mr. Naidu’s departure and praised his contributions. “He will be a very tough act to follow,” Mr. Ramesh said. The Opposition leaders met separately during the day to decide the floor strategy during the session.