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Congress, opposition showdown expected in parliament

The Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party confrontation over the 2005 killing of an alleged Islamist has cast a shadow on the monsoon session of parliament beginning tommorow but there will be fireworks on plenty of other issues too.

delhi Updated: Jul 25, 2010 13:47 IST

The Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) confrontation over the 2005 killing of an alleged Islamist has cast a shadow on the monsoon session of parliament beginning on Monday but there will be fireworks on plenty of other issues too.

The opposition parties are all set to take on the Congress-led government over a myriad of reasons from price rise, Maoist violence, recurring train disasters and the failed India-Pakistan talks that brought out differences in the government in the open.

But the BJP is furious with the Congress after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) slapped murder charges against Gujarat's Minister of State for Home Amit Shah, who has since quit the government of Narendra Modi.

Shah has been chargesheeted along with several already jailed police officers over the gunning down of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, who the state police alleged was a Lashkar-e-Taiba activist. His family denies this.

The BJP has taken the stand that the CBI move is masterminded by the Congress for "vote-bank politics" -- an euphemism to mean the ruling party was appeasing Muslims, the country's largest minority.

While price rise, including the hikes in prices of petroleum products, is high on the agenda of the opposition, they also have other issues to raise -- the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, scam over the 2G spectrum allocation, and the unending unrest in the Kashmir Valley, opposition leaders said.

The opposition is happy that it managed to unite July 5 by organising a crippling nationwide shutdown against the government primarily over rising food prices.

But the government has reasons to cheer too.

Despite the showdown expected in parliament, the opposition remains divided. The Left leaders have said no to floor coordination with the BJP, ruling out any joint offensive that could threaten the government.

In any case, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is neither happy with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) nor is it working in tandem with the opposition.

"There is no move for floor coordination (with BJP). However, they can join us on issues," Basudeb Acharia of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) told the news agency, referring to the monsoon sessions that will end Aug 27.

The BJP wants to focus on what it says is the disconnect over its policy vis-à-vis Pakistan and the raging Maoist violence. Maoists have been killing security forces seemingly at will.

"Price rise, talks with Pakistan, terrorism and Maoist violence... We will put the government on the mat," BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The BJP has already gone on the offensive against the government after External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna returned from Pakistan July 16, after his talks with his Pakistani counterpart failed to generate trust between the two countries.

Krishna's criticism of Home Secretary G.K. Pillai -- who was also attacked by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi -- for statements critical of the Pakistani intelligence over the Mumbai terror attack has given the opposition more fodder.

The BJP and Left have also attacked Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee for the spurt in railway accidents that has left hundreds dead.

The Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Samajwadi Party are expected to raise their demand for caste-based census -- and also come out against the bill for reserving seats for women in legislatures.

Official sources said the government was keen to pass the Civil Nuclear Liability Bill. It is presently being examined by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

In a bid to appease the opposition, Home Minister P. Chidambaram has said the government was ready to discuss any matter of interest.

Congress spokesman Manish Tewari added: "Parliament is where issues are fleshed out through discussion and all shades of opinion are articulated. Disruption does not facilitate the process of parliamentary democracy."

Important bills listed for introduction or passage in the monsoon session:

- The Securities and Insurance Laws (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010 - (to replace an ordinance).

- The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2010 - (to replace an ordinance).

- The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010 (to replace an ordinance).

- The Salary, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Seeds Bill, 2004.

- The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010.

- The Land Port Authority of India Bill, 2010, as passed by Lok Sabha.

- The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Bill, 2006.

- The Prevention of Torture Bill, 2010, as passed by Lok Sabha.

- The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Orissa (Alteration of Name) Bill, 2010.

- The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2010 (women's reservation bill), as passed by Rajya Sabha.

- The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2008.

- The Energy Conservation (Amendment) Bill, 2010, as passed by Lok Sabha.

- The Wakf (Amendment) Bill, 2010, as passed by Lok Sabha.

- The Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill, 2010.

- The Anti Hijacking (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Forward Contracts Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Direct Tax Code (DTC) Bill, 2010.

- The Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The National Academic Depository (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill, 2010.

- The Press and Registration of Books and Publications Bill, 2010.

- The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010.

- The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2010 - (To increase the age of retirement of the high court judges by three years from 62 to 65.)

- The Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010.

- The Dam Safety Bill, 2010.

- The Nalanda University Bill, 2010.

First Published: Jul 25, 2010 13:14 IST