To gear up for a stormy Parliament session starting July 26, on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi conferred with UPA allies — the second time since the government was formed in 2009 — on how to deal with the Opposition and the issues and bills that will arise.
On his part, Leader in the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee told BJP leaders L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley that while the UPA was ready to discuss any issue, it will not agree to any adjournment motion that censures the government.
To break the newfound Opposition unity over rising prices, the Congress may bring the women’s bill before the Lok Sabha Business Advisory Committee (BAC) though its passage is tough given the opposition by parties such as the RJD and SP and even UPA allies like AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaissi.
At the UPA coordination committee meeting, National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah said the bill must be brought this session. But Mukherjee noted the practical difficulties: the BJP’s insistence on a discussion (also underlined by Gandhi), non-repetition of Rajya Sabha’s unruly scenes, non-use of marshals and need for order to pass the constitutional amendment bill. The ball would, in the event, lie in the BAC’s court.
DMK’s T.R. Baalu flagged the issues of price rise, caste census, Sri Lankan Tamils and the need for a monthly adjustment of fuel prices. He wondered why the government didn’t publicise the compulsions behind the hike. Gandhi too said there was need to explain this to people.
Owaissi pointed that with India soon to join the Security Council, the Centre will have to clear its stand on Iran and the nuclear issue. The PM intervened to say that he has already conveyed to US president Obama that any decision on Iran would lie with the IAEA.
Indo-Pak talks, J&K and the Babhli dam issue are also expected to come up in the Houses and the UPA hopes to take on the Opposition through full attendance.