Govt., Opposition gearing up for battle in House

With just over a week left for the monsoon session of Parliament, the Modi government and the Opposition are gearing up for what promises to be yet another stormy session.

If Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sources say, hopes to use a meeting of the NITI Aayog on July 15 to convince Chief Ministers to back the controversial amendments to the Land Bill, Sonia Gandhi, as president of the principal Opposition party, the Congress, has invited leaders of all like-minded parties for an Iftar dinner on Monday, one that promises to be a show of strength.

As things stand, it is advantage Opposition, as the past few weeks have seen top BJP Ministers and Chief Ministers facing charges, ranging from impropriety to corruption and murder, issues that parties ranged against the Modi government will highlight in Parliament. The ruling party’s stout defence of its Union Ministers and Chief Ministers and the Prime Minister’s silence has goaded the Opposition to sharpen its attack and strengthen its resolve not to permit the two Houses to function till the government responds satisfactorily to its demand for resignations.

It is learnt that the nine Congress Chief Ministers — as well as West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress — have decided not to attend the NITI Aayog meeting, where the Land Bill — among other issues — will be discussed. If the boycott is carried through, 10 of 30 Chief Ministers will be absent that day.

Land Bill

Already, the Chief Secretaries of the Congress-ruled States, responding to a letter from the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Land Bill, have stated their objections to the changes proposed by the government to the 2013 Act. The Trinamool has always staunchly opposed the Land Bill.

On July 16, when the parliamentary panel meets again, representatives of all the Union Ministries that deal with land acquisition will depose before its members. BJP sources say it is these representations that will reveal the government’s mind — on whether it is willing to make any concessions on the controversial amendments or stay firm. In any case, though the BJP MPs on the panel will have to support the government, informed sources told The Hindu that there was great disquiet among them on the government’s insistence on trying to push through amendments that are being perceived as pro-industry and anti-farmer.

Strategy talk

At Ms. Gandhi’s Iftar dinner on Monday, there is likely to be an informal exchange among leaders of like-minded parties on the strategy for the Parliament session beginning July 21. It will also, the Congress hopes, send out a larger message of Opposition unity.

Among the leaders invited are Mulayam Singh (SP), Nitish Kumar and Sharad Yadav (Janata Dal-United), Mayawati (Bahujan Samaj Party), Sharad Pawar (Nationalist Congress Party), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), H.D. Deve Gowda (Janata Dal-Secular), E. Ahmed (Indian Union Muslim League), Kanimozhi (DMK), D. Raja (CPI), Farooq Abdullah (National Conference) and Sudip Bandhopadhyay (Trinamool Congress).

Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad has expressed his inability to attend as he is hosting an Iftar party in Patna.

The All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen, part of the Congress-led UPA till two years ago, and the AIUDF, which has a tie-up with the Congress in Assam, have also been invited.

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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 9:17:12 AM |

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