US President Barack Obama’s speech in Parliament has given the Congress the ammunition the party needed to take on the opposition in the winter session, which starts on Wednesday.
The opposition is preparing to grill the ruling party on issues such as the Adarsh housing scandal, the corruption surrounding the Commonwealth Games, the 2G spectrum scam, price rise, Maoism and Inter-Services Intelligence activities.
The Congress will now go into the session with the confidence that the Obama visit has been successful from the country’s point of view, given the fact that the US president supported India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council, called for dismantling terror camps in Pakistan and ruled out US intervention in Kashmir.
Had Obama been silent on these, the opposition would have had an opportunity to allege Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been playing a second fiddle to the US. The Left parties will have nationwide demonstrations on Wednesday to protest against the economic policies of the US.
Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar will meet leaders of parties to seek cooperation in running the House smoothly.
The session, which will conclude on December 13, will be volatile. This will also be the first session after the September 30 verdict on the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit by the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
The government has a long legislative agenda with 23 bills slotted for consideration and passing and as many new bills to be introduced. The latter include the Land Acquisition bill, which was being opposed by Trinamool Congress’s Mamata Banerjee, the Mines and Minerals bill, which will give the locals a stake in projects, and the Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment at Workplace bill, which was recently cleared by the cabinet. The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) bill is being withdrawn and a new bill will be introduced in its place.