A united opposition is all set to raise the heat on the government over issues like lynching incidents and vigilantism, the Kashmir situation and the border stand-off with China during the monsoon session of Parliament that begins Monday. The session, which will continue till August 11, is also likely to witness heated debates on other key issues like the fallout of the GST, the agrarian crisis and the policy towards Pakistan. Some parties are likely to raise the issue of notification on ban on cow slaughter and demand an explanation from the government on it.
The Lok Sabha as well as the Rajya Sabha will be adjourned on Monday due to the death of sitting members of both the Houses and serious proceedings are expected from Tuesday. Two Rajya Sabha members - former Union minister Anil Madhav Dave and Congress member Palvai Govardhan Reddy - died during the interregnum period after the budget session while sitting Gurdaspur Lok Sabha member Vinod Khanna also died during that period.
The Opposition parties are already in attack mode on the issue and will get even more aggressive during the session. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad made it clear today that the Congress and other opposition parties would target the government over the issues.
Azad on Sunday said the government "closed all doors for dialogue" on it which led to "political suffocation" in the Valley. He also observed that the differences with China over Kashmir had become a new focal point.
The government had called the meeting of Opposition parties where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and top officials, including National Security Advisor Ajit Doval briefed them on the standoff with China and the situation in Kashmir. The meeting was seen as an attempt to pacify Opposition leaders ahead of the Parliament session.
However, the opposition parties have made it clear that they plan to target the government over the China issue during the session. Azad made it clear today that the opposition parties would seek a debate on the stand-off in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction.
The issue of lynching and cow vigilantism will appear prominently in the opposition attack on the government. The Congress and several other opposition parties, including the Left, have been critical of the ruling alliance over the cases of violence by self-proclaimed cow protectors who have often attacked Muslims and, in some cases, Dalits.
Seeking to build a firewall for the government from the expected opposition attacks in Parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today made it clear that states should act tough against those violating law in the name of cow protection and insisted that the issue should not be given political and communal colour.
"We will try and put the government on the mat and demand answers on some key issues that are posing a threat to the country's social harmony," a senior opposition leader said.
CPI leader D Raja said the opposition "will seek answers from the government on what they are doing to check rising incidents of cow vigilantism and lynchings in the country that pose grave danger to the social harmony of the country and the idea of India".
The issue of farmers' suicide and protests in NDA-ruled states is expected to rock the Monsoon session of the Parliament. The firing in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh last month where five farmers were killed will also figure in Opposition attack.
Economic issues, especially alleged lack of jobs, are also likely to be taken up by the opposition parties to corner the government. JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav has accused the Modi government of failing to fulfil its promises to create jobs and said the opposition parties would raise the matter in Parliament.
BJP leaders have said they would take on the opposition over these issues claiming that the government's track record has been better than the UPA in terms of economy and agriculture growth.
Issues like the flood situation particularly in Assam and other northeastern states, violence over Gorkhaland, fallout of demonetisation, job losses and disinvestment of PSUs are also likely to be raised.
The prime minister's first-ever visit to Israel is also likely to figure for discussion in the coming session.
The increased opposition synergy comes at a time when 18 parties have come together under one platform to pin the government on some key issues. The parties came together on the presidential and vice-presidential election, but are keen to take the unity further in raising issues in Parliament.
Despite the JD(U) breaking ranks with the joint Opposition, it is expected to join the chorus on key issues. However, on the issues of corruption and the raids on the leaders of Opposition parties, the fracture among the Opposition parties may appear.
If parties like Mamata Banerjee-led TMC and Lalu Prasad- led RJD attack the government over the action of law enforcement agencies such as the CBI and the ED against their leaders over alleged corruption, the treasury benches too would use the issue to underline their anti-corruption credentials.
The issue could also see a division in the opposition ranks as the Left and the JD(U) are unlikely to rush to defend the TMC and the RJD respectively on the matter of corruption.
The government, on its part, is seeking the cooperation of opposition in getting key legislative business passed and has lined up around two dozen bills in the session that will have around 20 sittings.
"The government would want the monsoon session of Parliament to be fruitful and constructive. We will also ensure good coordination and communication with the opposition to help get legislative business passed during the session. If the opposition demands a discussion on some current issues, we will discuss the same in the business advisory committee and the chairman will decide the time and date of discussion," Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told PTI.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said 21 bills were pending in the Lok Sabha and 42 in the Rajya Sabha.
A lot of legislative business is lined up by the government in this session, which includes the 'The Indian Institutes of Information Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2017', 'The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, 2017', 'The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2017' in the Lok Sabha.
Nine of these legislations, including The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017, have been passed by the Lok Sabha and are listed for passage by the Rajya Sabha.
Other crucial legislations include the labour code bill, the extension of GST in Jammu and Kashmir bill, the banking resolution bill and 'The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2017.
(With PTI inputs)