Armed with a list of issues to target the Narendra Modi government in the forthcoming Budget session of Parliament, the Congress is making one last attempt to gain the leader of opposition status.
Rediff.com contributor Renu Mittal reports
With just days to go for the start of the Budget session of the 16th Lok Sabha, the Congress is making one last attempt to bag the post of leader of the opposition in the lower House even though it does not have the 10 per cent numbers required to secure it.
The party, along with its allies in the United Progressive Alliance and other like-minded parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party, will look to stall Parliament proceedings primarily on the issue of rising prices and the government’s failure to deliver on the ache din promise.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has formed a strategy group comprising herself, Rahul Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, leaders of the party in the two Houses, deputy leaders and whips, which will meet daily during the session to chalk out strategy on how to take on the government on important issues.
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge along with chief whip Jyotiraditya Scindia and some leaders from the UPA called on the Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan and impressed upon her that as a pre-poll alliance, the UPA has 58 Lok Sabha members and should therefore be given the post of leader of the opposition.
The Speaker was told that for appointments to certain key positions, the leader of the opposition had to be part of the committee that decides these appointments as has been mandated by law.
The Speaker is expected to announce her decision before the two Houses convene on July 7.
Apart from price rise, the Congress as the main opposition party would take up the issue of Nihal Chand Meghawal rape case and demand that the prime minister drop him from the council of ministers till his name is cleared of charges.
The Congress would focus on the increasing rape cases through out the country, the Gopal Subramaniam controversy and oppose the government’s attempts to bring in changes in some bills like the Land Acquisition Bill and dilute some ordinances like the one related to SEBI as well as the one dealing with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes atrocities.
A Congress functionary said that the party cannot be seen as supporting the government and oppose its own bills and ordinances so soon after bringing them.
The Lok Sabha Speaker has called an all-party meeting on Saturday to discuss the issues to come up in the Budget session.
It is interesting that Finance minister Arun Jaitley is trying to bring about a consensus with state finance ministers over implementation of the goods and services tax. So far the major opposition is coming from BJP-ruled states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and others who are opposing it strongly.