The Manmohan Singh government will complete half of its five-year term on Thursday. Some of its challenges ahead are likely to be reflected in the ongoing Parliament session.
The first of the tough tasks ahead will perhaps come on Thursday itself, if the Bharatiya Janata Party raises the issue of the Chinese claim on Arunachal Pradesh. Taking it up with the Afzal Guru issue, the BJP plans to paint the UPA as a government which cannot be trusted with the country's external or internal security.
While the Arunachal matter would be raised through a Zero Hour notice in the Lok Sabha, the BJP is likely to raise a demand for a parliamentary resolution stating that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. It is likely to draw inspiration from a resolution the House adopted on PoK during Narasimha Rao's time.
Government sources refused to react to the BJP's likely move. "We will respond when they raise the issue," a minister said. But indicating that the UPA would not back it, he recalled steps the Centre had taken after the Chinese Ambassador's remarks raised a furore in the country.
In his talks with Chinese president Hu Jintao, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is believed to have said Tawang and other parts of Arunachal Pradesh cannot be exchanged to achieve a border settlement.
According to the Left leaders, the border problem with Arunachal has to be settled through negotiations. And while there has to be give and take, it has to be without a transfer of population.
Similarly, the Government cannot proceed with the Banking Regulation and Pension Fund Regulatory and Authority bills unless the Left agrees. These legislations are stuck on the Left demand that employees be assured 50 per cent of their average earnings of the last three years in service (pension bill) and their opposition to 74 per cent FDI and takeover of private Indian banks by foreign banks (Banking regulation bill).
A UPA meeting on Wednesday had decided to put these legislations on hold. But the contentious Women's Reservation Bill would be tabled in Parliament in the ongoing session and then routed to the Standing Committee.
For the Manmohan Singh government, the success of the session hinges on the passage of at least one of the three bills expected to set the stage for the next generation of economic reforms.
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