The stage is set for the start of the monsoon session of Parliament on August 1 and already the Opposition and ruling parties are drawing up their strategies to further their larger political plans.
With its anti-corruption theme song, the Opposition is certainly hoping to further erode the government’s confidence in the coming session. Recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party demanded the resignation of Home Minister P. Chidambaram for his alleged role as the former Finance Minister in the Krishna-Godavari gas basin matter, on which the Comptroller and Auditor General has sent a draft report to the Petroleum Ministry seeking its response. And, of course, the police action at the Ramlila grounds on yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s followers is also bound to be raised.
The ruling coalition is equally determined to try and regain some measure of public support through some path-breaking legislation. The Lokpal Bill, as promised, is bound to come up and there is an indication that an effort would be made to get the Women’s Reservation Bill go through the Lok Sabha. There is also the bill to prevent all forms of violence targeting minorities — linguistic, religious or caste — and the government could well be hoping to use this to divide the Opposition. The Left is likely to support it, while the BJP has already criticised it and will certainly oppose it.
Ahead of the monsoon session — the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs headed by Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday decided to recommend a session from August 1 to September 8 — Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has called a meeting of leaders of all parties on Wednesday to once again try to evolve consensus on the women’s reservation Bill that the Rajya Sabha passed more than a year ago. The Bill is yet to be taken up in the Lok Sabha. It continues to face open opposition from the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and partially from the Janata Dal (United).
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal on Tuesday said the seriousness of the government was self-evident in that it piloted the Bill safely through the Upper House and it “also took a little unpleasant [political] dose to see that it is passed.”
The negotiations between the government and civil society members on the Lokpal Bill were over on Tuesday. But already the government has indicated the next step in the process would begin in the form of consultation with all parties.
This Bill, like the Women’s Reservation Bill, would be a constitutional amendment and the Opposition support is necessary as a two-thirds majority is needed.
With several of the accused in the 2G spectrum and Commonwealth Games scandals already in jail, the government is certainly hoping to retrieve some of its lost prestige through historic legislation. But, precisely because of this, it may not be easy as the Opposition could find ways to scuttle the ruling party’s effort and keep the heat on the United Progressive Alliance by demanding a discussion or even a joint parliamentary committee on the KG basin matter, especially if the final CAG report on this subject is ready by then. Hindu