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Monsoon session: UPA to face the heat despite triumphs

August 08, 2012 01:30 IST

The United Progressive Alliance will face the monsoon session of Parliament, which begins on Wednesday, on a high, having proved that when it comes to numbers it can beat its opponents hollow.

However, despite the numbers the Congress-led UPA has no leadership to speak of which is why it continues to face problems in terms of governance and taking key policy decisions.

This will be more accurately reflected in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament. The twin elections of the President and vice president have shown the UPA to be intact.

None of its partners have broken rank and have stood by the Congress. In addition, the Congress has brought on board warring Uttar Pradesh parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

It has succeeded in creating fissures in the Nationalist Democratic Allaince with Nitish Kumar and Bal Thackeray supporting Pranab Mukherjee even as the Biju Janata Dal and Telugu Desam Party -- earlier allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-- refraining from voting for the NDA candidate and have instead decided to abstain.

Having bagged both the President and the vice president with huge margins, the Congress will begin the session with a meeting of the newly set up co-ordination committee to be chaired by Sonia Gandhi.

The session also begins with the senior BJP leader L K Advani having put the BJP on the back foot by announcing to the world that it is unlikely that the next general election will throw up a BJP prime minister. This has set the cat amongst the pigeons with rattled leaders upset at Advani for bringing down the morale of the party at this crucial juncture.

But despite all this, the BJP is ready to take on the Congress with the opposition party bringing in an adjournment motion on the Assam situation and the large number of people who have been killed.

Assam has a Congress government and the party will have to face a great deal of criticism on the manner in which the violence has engulfed the state.

The ruling Congress will miss Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee who was its chief troubleshooter for the last eight years in the Lok Sabha.

Sitting in his place would be newly appointed Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde who has an affable manner but is neither known for his articulation or his erudition.

The re-elected Vice President Hamid Ansari, whose term ends on August 10, will take oath on August 11 at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and return to the Rajya Sabha as chairman on Monday, while the Congress MP from Kerala P J Kurian is expected to be the new vice chairman of the upper House instead of Rehman Khan.

Apart from this the opposition is planning to put the new Finance Minister P Chidambaram on the mat by raising the spectrum issue where they had earlier targeted him for his alleged involvement in the 2G scam, rising prices, falling economy, drought, the coal block allocation scam, the controversial Aircel-Maxis deal, the power grid collapse and a host of other issues.

Both the left and the right have said they are against foreign direct investment in retail and with Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee and Samajwadi Party supremo Mualayam Singh Yadav also opposing it, the government would find the going tough on FDI in retail which it says it is determined to bring as the pressure from the United States is increasing on the prime minister.

The BJP says it wants a clear explanation from the government on its policy on the matter.

The government has listed 31 bills for the session which includes those on forward contracts, banking laws, whistle blowers act, prevention of bribery of foreign public officials bill, land acquisition bill, etc.

It is unlikely that the Lokpal bill will be brought since Satyavrat Chaturvedi, the chairman of the select committee, said it will only be presented to the House on the first day of the last week of the monsoon session.

With Team Anna having ended their fast, it looks unlikely that the government is in any hurry to bring it up.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi