The monsoon session of Parliament from Tuesday, like the name suggests, is set to be stormy as the ruling BJP faces a series of thunderstorms over corruption allegations against some high-profile ministers.
Unlike the budget session that ended in May, the government is up against an angry Congress in this round of Parliament. The rival party is running a concerted campaign for the removal of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje as well as foreign minister Sushma Swaraj.
The budget session broke records to become the most productive in 15 years and, more importantly, for the Narendra Modi government, three crucial reform-related bills on the insurance sector, coal and mines and minerals got cleared. The Congress supported these bills despite its opposition to the controversial land acquisition bill.
This time around, the Congress is in no mood to cooperate. But the BJP, too, is adamant to brazen it out.
As part of its strategy, the government has lined up a short but impressive list of 11 bills for Parliament’s approval. Topping the list is the long-awaited 122nd Constitution Amendment Bill that aims to pave the way for the goods and services tax, GST.
Barring the Congress, the principal opposition party, the GST bill has seen overwhelming support from other political quarters. Arch-rivals Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP, Shiv Sena and NCP, Left and Trinamool —all have same ring-tones: bring on the GST!
But all eyes will finally be on the Congress as the principal opposition party may make it very difficult for the NDA to pass the bill if the government doesn’t give in to its demand for removal of Chouhan, Raje and Swaraj.
Chouhan is in the thick of a multi-crore scandal involving rigging in college admission and recruitment tests in his state, while Raje and Swaraj were facing flak for their association with former IPL chief Lalit Modi.
Initial days of the session are all set to be lost in din and protests as there is little chance of Prime Minister Modi adhering to the Congress’s demands.
The bills’ fate, therefore, will depend on the last week of the session when the Congress will be under intense pressure to stop disruptions in Parliament.
The BJP’s decision not to proceed with the land bill is a clear indication that it doesn’t want to take on the entire opposition. It is going slow on the contentious labour reforms. With some other opposition parties not ready to join hands with the Congress, the NDA’s best chance can come in the last week to pass a few bills quickly.
If the GST bill is the top priority for the government, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill to treat a teenager in the age bracket of 16-18 years as adult if he commits a heinous crime is also high on the agenda.
In a nutshell: No chance of all bills getting passed. The government should be happy if it can pass the GST bill, though.