Opposition parties, led by the Congress, are set to play hardball over the Modi government’s legislative agenda on reforms even as the Centre has lined up an extensive list of business for the winter session of Parliament that starts Monday.
Hints of trouble brewing were evident after Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party skipped the all-party meet on Friday and Congress’ leader in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said in the meeting, “I cannot commit anything today”.
The government has lined up 37 bills for introduction and another 19 for passage during the session. The list includes GST bill, Insurance act amendment bill and Lokpal bill amendments.
The first day itself may see confrontation in the Upper House as the government has listed two labour reforms bills—the Labour Laws Amendment Bill and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill – that the Congress-led Opposition may flex its muscle over.
“We do not have a blanket opposition to reforms. But on these (labour) bills we need to talk to labour unions first and take them on board,” Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh told HT.
Most unions are opposed to amendments to the factories act and the apprenticeship act which are pending before parliament.
Kharge too, told HT, “Our core group will meet and decide on which bills we can support this government. We have to read the fine prints of all proposed legislation.”
In a signed article, finance minister Arun Jaitley accused the Congress of damaging the economy while in power and “now trying to pursue the same destructive direction while in opposition”.
Trinamool, already holding the Modi government responsible for its MP Srinjoy Bose’s arrest by the CBI, slammed the decision to hold the all-party meet on a Sunday.
Its chief spokesperson Derek O’Brien told HT , “They had all the time in the world to call this meeting. They picked a Sunday to show as if only they are working”. O’Brien added they are in touch with different non-NDA parties and want to raise the issue of black money “aggressively”.
Helping the NDA brace against the coming Opposition storm, the Shiv Sena gave its “full support” to the Modi government. “There may be some unfinished negotiations in Maharashtra, but we are supporting the NDA from inside,” said Sena leader Sanjay Rout.
Winter session of Parliament starts Monday and will continue till December 23.