The Monsoon Session of Parliament is set to begin on a stormy note despite the central government ministers reaching out to leaders of the Congress as well as its allies to ensure smooth functioning of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The Monsoon session, which begins tomorrow., i.e., July 18 and ends on August 10, will have 18 scheduled sittings. Notwithstanding the central government’s appeal, opposition parties led by Congress have said they will allow both the Houses to function but reached a consensus that they will accuse the Modi government if there is any disruption.
The Monsoon Session of Parliament is crucial for both the government as well as the opposition. The session assumes political significance as this will be second last full-fledged session for the BJP-led NDA government before the Lok Sabha 2019. This will also be the final session before crucial assembly polls take place in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. PM Modi has time to time made fervent appeals to opposition parties to allow smooth running of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, but that has fallen on deaf ears.
Push to end Triple Talaq
Amidst the politics surrounding the Muslim community, the central government is likely to push for a bill against triple talaq. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has even mocked Congress for being a party which stood only with Muslim men. “The real face of these parties was revealed by their approach on triple talaq,” he said at a rally in Azamgarh, accusing the opposition parties of ignoring the plight of Muslim women who suffered because of the practice. The Lok Sabha had passed the contentious bill making instant triple illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, a development hailed by the government as “historic” during last Winter Session. MPs from the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal. The bill is awaiting the Rajya Sabha nod.
Test for Opposition Unity
For the opposition, it will be a big test of unity, something that they would like to carry forward into the upcoming elections, both in states as well as on the national level. A united opposition, an idea which made headlines during the swearing-in ceremony of Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy in Bengaluru, will faceits first potent litmus test. And the opposition knows it well.
A key meeting of 13 parties, including Congress, NCP, TMC, BSP, SP, RJD, DMK, CPI(M), CPI, JD(S), RSP, IUML and KC-M, has taken place in Delhi. During the meeting, a common strategy to corner the central government has been chalked out. Opposition leaders will focus on major issues they want to raise in Parliament, including cases of mob lynching, atrocities on Dalits and women, rising unemployment, woes of farmers and backwards, and reservation in higher education institutions. Besides, Opposition parties have also decided to unitedly move forward in fielding a joint candidate for the post of deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha, which fell vacant after the retirement of P J Kurien on July 1.
Government reaches out
Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel met leaders of opposition parties, including Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav, BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Rout and CPI leader D Raja, according to a report. The minister also met leaders of TRS, BJD and others, the report said. During his interaction with the political leaders, Goel sought their cooperation in the smooth functioning of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. He said the functioning of Parliament without any hindrance was the national duty of the ruling and opposition parties, sources said. It has been learnt that the row over Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s reported statement that his party is for “Muslims” is set to cast its shadow over Parliament’s Monsoon Session
The shadow of ‘no confidence motion’ against the ruling NDA dispensation looms large over the upcoming session like the previous one, with the TDP seeking the support of opposition parties for it. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu has written to various parties and sought their support for the no-confidence motion his party seeks to move in Parliament against the government over the “injustice” meted out to Andhra Pradesh due to non-fulfilment of the promise of granting special status to the state. Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has already lent its support to the motion. As per latest reports, the Rashtriya Janata Dal has decided to extend its support to the TDP’s move.
Pending bills in House
So far, there are 39 bills are pending in both the Houses, according to PRS India. Parliamentary Affairs minister Ananth Kumar said that the legislative business would include the passing of six Ordinances promulgated during the inter-session period. Ananthkumar also said that the Government would introduce bills including the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Third Amendment) Bill, 2017, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017, inter alia, for consideration and passing in both Houses of Parliament.
Women Reservation bill
The key bill remains a bone of contention between Congress and BJP. While BJP has accused the Congress of adopting “double standards” on the matter by siding with those opposed to the bill, Rahul Gandhi has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament and offered his party’s unconditional support to the bill. The Congress president’s letter to the PM comes in the backdrop of PM’s accusations that the Congress was only a party of Muslim men and had no regard for women victims of triple talaq. The Womesn’s Reservation Bill is being seen as the Congress’ counter to it.
Fear of washout
Winter Session 2017 and Budget Session 2018 of Parliament saw a virtual washout as both the Houses failed to transact any significant business due to unabated faceoff between the Centre and the Opoosition parties. To protest the logjam during the Monsoon session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other BJP MPs and Union Ministers had held a day-long fast. The washout of the Budget session had cost the nation almost Rs 200 crore.