Crucial bills hang in balance as Parliament set for another stormy session over Uttarakhand, Ishrat issues
New Delhi: The parliament session set to begin on Monday could well prove to be another washout with both the opposition and the Centre showing no signs of a thaw. With crucial bills hanging in balance, conflict between the two major national parties could render this session of parliament as unproductive as the previous ones.
While the government is set to target the Gandhis for “influencing changes” in the Ishrat Jahan affidavit and the "faulty" investigation in cases related to Ishrat Jahan and Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit, the Congress also looks set to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah over the dismissal of the Uttarakhand government.
"We do not see any harmony. The acrimonious mood will thus prevail even in both houses in parliament. You can expect washout of another session," former Samajwadi Party MP Shailendra Kumar told IANS.
Many sitting lawmakers -- from both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha - too feel that scenes of pandemonium would be repeated once again and the much-required Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will continue to remain stalled.
Moreover, the ruling party has also stepped up attack on former home minister P. Chidambaram alleging that his decision to alter the affidavit on Ishrat Jahan was probably at the instance of higher ups in his party.
In fact, the sentiment among non-Congress and non-BJP parties is that the confrontation between the ruling party and the opposition camp has got further aggravated.
"It has become a pattern. Every time on the eve of the parliament sessions, Congress and BJP instead of reaching out to each other try to raise the level of confrontation. The casualty is the smooth functioning of parliament," a member of Odisha-based regional party Biju Janata Dal told IANS.
Besides eyeing the passage of long-pending Goods and Service Tax Bill, the fate of the National Waterways Transportation Bill, Consumer Protection Bill and the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that seek to improve ease of doing business also hang in the balance. The parliamentary panel's report on the vexed land acquisition bill is also awaited.
Congress has decided to stick to its aggressive posture on Uttarakhand. Anand Sharma, the party's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, where the government is in minority, has already moved a notice for passing of a resolution, criticising the Narendra Modi-led government for imposing President's Rule in the state.
"It was a gross lapse on the part of government to have dismissed the Harish Rawat government just hours before the trial of strength in the assembly," Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Ambika Sonia said.
Congress and its allies including the Left parties may also stage protests outside parliament to highlight the Centre's "misuse of power" and giving cooperative federalism the go by.
On alleged moves by the Modi government to let the Samjhauta Express blast accused Col Purohit off the hook or for dilution of alleged 'Hindu terror' cases filed under the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, the Congress has demanded removal of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief Sharad Kumar.
For its part, the BJP members like Anurag Thakur and Kirit Somaiya have said they will raise issues like the Ishrat Jahan case probe in Lok Sabha.
"I will raise these issues in Lok Sabha as the Congress action on Ishrat Jahan not only exposes its prejudiced mind to play vote bank politics, but this has serious impact on national security as a Lashkar-e-Taiba operative was being given out as a helpless and innocent victim while police and security personnel were implicated," Anurag Thakur told IANS.
The saffron party's attack against the Congress leadership is likely to be a multi-pronged strategy.
BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi has already alleged that the saffron terror phrase was first used in 2009 and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had reportedly said in an interaction in July 2010 that 'Hindu terrorism' was more dangerous than other terrorism.
"Subsequently home minister P. Chidambaram used the saffron terrorism phrase in parliament in August 2010. Congress leader Digvijay Singh in Mumbai had released a book that had linked the RSS to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks," Trivedi alleged and wanted to know "how all these coincidences happened together".
On behalf of Congress, Ashok Gehlot has accused Modi and Amit Shah of trying to defame the Congress president and vice president in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case to "draw political mileage".
Responding to the salvo that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had instructed Chidambaram to change the affidavit, the Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewalla has said that Modi was trying to derail the probe.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan has now called an all-party meeting on Sunday to ensure smooth functioning of the house. But as usual not many are optimistic about the outcome.