New Delhi: The border situation with China, the alleged misuse of government agencies, price rise and unemployment will dominate the proceedings of the Winter Session of Parliament starting Wednesday.
The results of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are also likely to play out during the start of the session. The session begins December 7, a day before the results of Assembly polls are out.
The Opposition will seek to corner the government on several issues and a confrontation is likely on the demand for discussions on Chinese ‘incursions’ at the border and alleged misuse of agencies. Rahul Gandhi and several senior Congress leaders who are walking in the Bharat Jodo Yatra are unlikely to attend the session.
Ahead of the session, leaders from more than 30 parties attended a meeting convened by the central government to discuss the legislative agenda and the issues likely to be taken up during the Winter Session of Parliament.
The meeting, chaired by Union minister and deputy leader of the BJP in Lok Sabha, Rajnath Singh, was to seek cooperation from all parties for the smooth functioning of the Winter Session. Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi were also present.
During the meeting, Joshi spelt out the government’s legislative agenda for the Winter Session and sought opposition’s cooperation for the passage of bills. He concluded the meeting, saying he has taken note of all the issues raised by political parties and the discussions will be held as per the norms and procedures of Parliament. Issues for discussion will be finalised in the business advisory committee meetings of both houses of Parliament, Singh said.
During the meeting, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) raised the issue of alleged misuse of investigating agencies, which was backed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and several other parties.
“There are so many issues before the country such as unemployment and price rise, and the government owes an answer to people,” Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told reporters after the meeting. He alleged the government did not ‘properly’ inform the Opposition about the stand-off at the Sino-India border. “In the House, we will demand a discussion on it and also on the killings of Kashmiri Pandits,” Chowdhury added.
Congress leader Naseer Hussain, who attended the meeting in the absence of chief whip of the party in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh, demanded discussions on the appointment of Election Commissioner in just one day and also on the Economically Weaker Section quota.
TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said he and his party colleague Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien sought discussions on price rise, unemployment, alleged misuse of agencies and alleged economic blockade of states.
The session will have 17 sittings over 23 days before it concludes December 29. The government plans to bring 16 new bills during the Winter Session. Sources said Opposition members questioned the government’s intent of getting around 25 bills passed, which include old bills as well, during the short span of 17 sittings.
The government has not allowed a discussion on the border situation with China and has denied charges of ‘misuse’ of agencies.
In total, members of Opposition parties have detailed around 16 issues for raising during the Winter Session. These include national security and China border ‘incursions’, recent cyber attack on AIIMS, ‘uncontrolled’ inflation and price rise of essential commodities, persisting high level of unemployment, failure to provide legal sanctity to minimum support price (MSP), and a rethink on the EWS reservation after the Supreme Court verdict.
The recent conflict between the judiciary and the government, the falling rupee and declining GDP growth, alleged voter ‘theft’ in Karnataka, continuing attacks on Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir are also likely to be sticking points between the Opposition and the government.