Despite the recent stand-offs in Parliament during discussions on intolerance and commitment to the Constitution, the Congress has decided it will not obstruct non-contentious legislative business but strongly raise issues of public importance in both Houses.
A Congress strategy meeting chaired by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, however, decided to corner the government in Parliament on issues such as price rise, black money and corruption. Party leaders stressed the need for greater coordination among members of both Houses on crucial issues.
There is a growing realisation in the Congress that stalling Parliament could prove counter-productive as some of the “friendly Opposition parties” wanted the two Houses to function so that the government could be held answerable on certain issues.
Even on the goods and services tax (GST) issue, the main Opposition party is inclined to accommodate the government’s concerns in its negotiations over the constitutional amendment bill.
“How long can you block a bill which had been brought by your own government?” said a Congress functionary privy to Thursday’s strategy deliberations.
The Congress will formalise its response to government proposals on the GST in an internal meeting to be held soon after party chief Sonia Gandhi’s return from the United States.
The government is also willing to “walk some distance” to take the Opposition along. “We will not pass the GST bill even if we can without the Congress on board,” said a senior government functionary.
The Congress’s conciliatory position may set the stage for the passage of several important bills slated to be taken up in the winter session, including those on juvenile justice, prevention of corruption, whistle-blowers’ protection and real estate.
Minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore nuanced the government stand. “The government is trying to reach out to all political parties, including the Congress, so that work can be done during the winter session leaving aside personal egos,” he said.
To ensure smooth functioning of Parliament, the ruling side has already asked its members to steer clear of controversies and refrain from making any provocative statements that could derail the government’s development agenda.