STORMY monsoon session of Parliament begins today
The monsoon session of Parliament opening on Wednesday promises to kick up a lot of heat and dust as opposition parties are planning to raise issues like communal violence in Assam, rising prices, economy and drought.
Seeking to corner the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party has announced plans to raise on the very first day the issue of Assam clashes which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as a blot on the nation.
The Assam issue could generate a lot of heat as the Congress and the opposition are expected to indulge in charges and counter-charges.
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Image: Parliament's monsoon session is all set to be stormy
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
A number of burning issues wait to be discussed
The opposition parties have also given notice that they would raise the alleged spectrum and coal block allocation scams as also the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal and the handling of the railway portfolio by Trinamool Congress, especially in the context of the Tamil Nadu Express accident recently.
The Pune blasts as also the collapse of the power grid in the north and the east are among the issues that are likely to be raised to pillory the government.
With the monsoon playing truant in several parts of the country, the focus would also turn to the drought situation amid demands for a national water policy and a better deal for farmers.
Image: Onlookers stand next to a burnt carriage of the Tamil Nadu Express at Nellore station on July 30. 30 people lost their lives in the mishap
The session will be a test for Sushilkumar Shinde
The session will be a test for newly-appointed Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who has been made the Leader of the Lok Sabha following the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who was the chief troubleshooter of the government for eight years.
Issues like rise in prices of diesel and petrol, floods, Centre-state relations, forward contracts, as also the detection of a tunnel along the Indo-Pak border are expected to be raised by the Opposition.
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has already said that a debate on the state of the economy would be pressed by the Opposition at a time when there is an economic crisis in the country, fall in ratings and devaluation of the rupee vis-a-vis the dollar.
She has said the Opposition also wants a clarification on the government's intentions on FDI in retail. The government will have to tread cautiously on the issue with key UPA constituent Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress making it clear that it was opposed to the move.
The Left and the Right have already made a common cause on the issue.
The Trinamool Congress has also expressed its opposition to any legislation on forward marketing in commodities and privatisation of pension fund.
Image: Home Minister and Leader of the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde
As many as 31 bills have been listed for consideration
The Left parties have taken up the issue of the Food Security Bill in a big way. They are also expected to take up the killing of tribals in Chhattisgarh and the violence at the Maruti plant in Manesar.
Government managers have been insisting that they were ready for discussion on any issue. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal expressed hope that like the last session, this session too would be a good and productive one as regards the transaction of government business.
Ahead of the session, the UPA will project a united picture with the first meeting of the coordination committee of the ruling alliance scheduled on Wednesday.
As many as 31 bills have been listed for consideration in the session, which will conclude on September 7. The bills include those on forward contracts, banking laws, whistle-blowers and women's reservation as also the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials bill.
Image: Dr Singh with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and MoS PMO Rajiv Shukla
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
Uncertainty over Lokpal Bill
While the much-talked about Lokpal bill has not been listed for consideration, the managers have been maintaining that it would be brought up expeditiously once the report from the select committee of the Rajya Sabha is submitted.
The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, debated in the Rajya Sabha and later referred to the Select Committee.
The select committee is expected to give its report on the first day of the last week of the monsoon session.
In May, the controversial Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was referred to the select committee of the Rajya Sabha, further delaying the setting up of the anti-graft ombudsman which has been hanging fire for 42 years.
The bill, on which the debate had remained inconclusive in the Rajya Sabha, was referred to the select committee through a motion soon after Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy moved it for consideration and passage.
Image: Supporters of Anna Hazare demonstrate for a stronger Lokpal Bill in New Delhi