The JNU row will add to the woes of the Bhartiya Janata Party-led NDA government and cast a long shadow on the smooth functioning of the Budget session of Parliament that will begin on Tuesday.
Though many parties, including those from the opposition camp, are opposed to disruptions, the Congress and the Left have made their intentions clear. They are going to make it tough for the government to run Parliament and have got fresh ammunition in the form of the ongoing controversy in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
The government has a heavy legislative agenda, including the goods and services tax (GST) bill, real estate bill and key labour reforms, for the Budget session after the last two sittings – Monsoon and Winter – were virtually washed out.
Parliament was paralysed in the Monsoon session over the Congress’ demand for resignations of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi get travel UK documents. It also wanted Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Raman Singh to quit over the multi-crore Vyapam recruitment scandal and the rice scam respectively.
The Winter session saw a near washout on issues like the Arunachal Pradesh crisis, the National Herald case, DDCA controversy and CBI raids on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office.
At the all-party meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the government to rein in people holding constitutional posts and also those BJP leaders who were “vitiating” the atmosphere in the country.
“Had action been taken against them, then many things which we see today would not be happening,” Azad said.
For his part, Modi sought to reach out to the opposition, saying he is the Prime Minister of the country and not of the BJP alone. He assured the opposition parties that the government will work to address their concerns and hoped that Parliament would function normally.
The meeting saw political parties, including Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Janata Dal(United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress, Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK, DMK and Indian National Lok Dal, pitching for the smooth functioning of Budget session, insisting that disruption of proceedings was lowering the image of Parliament.
But the Congress has already sounded alarm bells for the government, maintaining that the issues of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide in University of Hyderabad and Arunachal crisis were high on its Parliament agenda for this session.
It has also given a call to all non-BJP parties to raise in one voice the issue of “coercive federalism” in Parliament.
On the Arunachal Pradesh issue, the Congress hopes to get the support of the BJD, AIADMK and other non-aligned parties as well. Several parties, including the JD(U), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), CPM, CPI, NCP and DMK, had termed the government’s move to impose President’s rule in the sensitive state as a “murder of democracy”.
“When the federal structure is dying, how can you run Parliament? When street fighting is going on in Arunachal Pradesh, where a majority is being reduced to a minority, how can you run Parliament?” JD(U) leader KC Tyagi had warned.