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Opposition to build on ‘Janta Parliament’ ideas

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury

Opposition leaders from the Congress, Left and other non-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parties have asked civil society leaders to work together with them to develop a common minimum agenda, based on resolutions framed during a virtual “ Janta Parliament ” held over the last week.

Important demands which could be included are universalisation of the public distribution system (PDS), the right to healthcare, opposition to the government’s agriculture marketing ordinances and the possibility of a universal basic income. Such an agenda could provide input into Opposition strategy in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.

“From the resolutions you have made here, it would be helpful to resolve a common minimum agenda and identify the most important priorities that can be agreed on by most Opposition parties also,” said K. Raju, bureaucrat turned Congress politician, who is a close aide of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, speaking at the closing session of the event.

“With the economic slowdown and COVID-19, the worst sufferers are the poorest of the poor. From the beginning, Congress has been demanding that the government put money into the hands of the poor in the form of a universal basic income. That is the most urgent collective demand,” said Mr. Raju, who was formerly the member secretary of the National Advisory Council in the United Progressive Alliance government. He added universal PDS, problems caused by Aadhaar verification, right to healthcare legislation, environment impact assessment draft, and the agriculture ordinances as other major priorities.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury initially proposed the idea of working together with civil society to develop a common agenda. “We need to have a joint action plan to raise these issues within Parliament and outside,” he said.

The Congress’ chief whip in the Lok Sabha Kodikunnil Suresh said the party would work to take up the major issues mentioned in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament.

“We should strategise together so there is convergence between Parliament House in Delhi and this Janta Parliament which has gathered voices from the ground across the country,” said Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha, promising that his party would also take a cue from the civil society demands during upcoming Bihar elections.

Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh and Communist Party of India leader D. Raja also spoke at the event, slamming the ruling BJP government for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis and failure to convene Parliament.

“As civil society, we will have to take some time to discuss the possibility of helping to draft a common agenda for the Opposition,” said Nikhil Dey, a social activist and leader of the Jan Sarokar collective that hosted the event. “For now, we will try and reach out to individual political parties with our resolutions, including the ruling party, and also push Opposition parties to take action in the States where they are in power.”


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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 3:56:29 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/opposition-leaders-ask-civil-society-to-help-frame-common-agenda/article32449594.ece