New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will not be attending the crucial monsoon session of Parliament which begins July 18 and ends August 10.
Arun Jaitley remains quarantined on doctors’ orders following a successful kidney transplant surgery that he underwent at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences May 14.
With Jaitley out of action, the Bharatiya Janata Party will have to select a new, temporary leader of the house in the Rajya Sabha, a post currently held by Jaitley. The Finance Ministry, Jaitley’s other big responsibility, is currently being handled by Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.
The role of the leader of the house in Rajya Sabha is crucial as the Opposition is expected to raise several issues including rumour-driven mob lynchings, the BJP-PDP split in Jammu and Kashmir and the rise in terror activities in the Kashmir Valley.
Jaitley’s current role in the government is also something that opposition parties might raise. “The most important question for us also will be that who is the finance minister of the country? Jaitley without charge or Goyal with charge,” an Opposition leader said.
The government too expects to transact crucial business in the monsoon session of Parliament. The government is expected to push the triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha where the NDA still doesn’t have numbers decisive enough to clear legislation.
BJP chief Amit Shah is said to have discussed with Jaitley last week about who could replace the latter as a temporary leader of the house in Rajya Sabha. According to sources, one of the proposed names was that of Vijay Goel.
Goel, however, is not seen as an ideal counter to veteran leaders in the Opposition such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, P Chidambaram, Manmohan Singh, Ambika Soni and Sharad Yadav, among others. Union ministers such as JP Nadda, seen as favourites of the current dispensation, on the other
hand have little Rajya Sabha
Given these constraints, sources say the BJP may consider IT and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad as Jaitley’s temporary replacement. A senior BJP leader said, “Prasad among all BJP MPs in Rajya Sabha has the best credentials to hold the (monsoon) session in which the Opposition will come guns blazing to ensure that no work is done.”
However, the Opposition is already looking forward to Jaitley’s absence. “Jaitley can out-argue opponents and present the government’s side like [an accomplished] salesman. Anyone else will mean an advantage to the Opposition,” a veteran Congress leader said.
The Opposition, which has greater numbers than the NDA in the Rajya Sabha, will meet on Monday to finalise its strategy for the upcoming monsoon