Expect political cloudbursts as Parliament’s monsoon session begins
The monsoon session will be significant for two factors: One, a new President and vice-president will be elected, and; two, it will debate vital issues like the Doklam standoff, Kashmir unrest and beef vigilantism among otherseditorials Updated: Jul 16, 2017 20:57 IST
Parliament’s monsoon session, which starts on Monday, will be significant both for debate on burning issues and elections to high constitutional offices. In the month-long sitting, the bicameral legislature will witness change of guard in the presidency and the office of the vice-president.
The Houses summoned by Pranab Mukherjee, the outgoing President, will be prorogued — after adjourning sine die — by his successor. The new President and vice-president are to be sworn in on July 25 and August 11 respectively while Parliament is still in session.
The president is Parliament’s integral part as its head. In that capacity, Mr Mukherjee, whose term ends on July 25, will deliver his farewell address to the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the Central Hall a couple of days before demitting office. His last address to the nation will be broadcast on July 24.
NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind’s election as President against the Opposition’s Meira Kumar is almost a foregone conclusion, the ruling combine at the Centre having overwhelming numbers in the electoral-college for the presidency comprising state legislatures and Parliament. The outcome is unlikely to be different for the V-P’s office held for a decade by Hamid Ansari who retires on August 11.
The ruling combine hasn’t yet named its vice-presidential nominee but the Opposition has fielded former governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi as their joint candidate. Regardless of the outcome, the session of the council of states will be adjourned sine die by the new V-P’s who’d also be its chairperson.
Amid elections of top constitutional functionaries, a host of issues could engage Parliament’s attention besides the treasury’s legislative business. Foremost among them are: The protracted India-China faceoff on the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet border; the Kashmir crisis, including the recent terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims; beef vigilantism; the Darjeeling ferment, and; and the rising agrarian crisis.
The all-party meeting the government convened on the Dokalam standoff on the eve of the monsoon session was aimed perhaps at giving diplomacy a chance — besides forging a national consensus on the tricky issue.
The initiative has been well-received and will have a sobering impact on a parliamentary debate if the Opposition insists on it. But sparks are likely to fly on the situation in the Kashmir valley — including the lynching of a police officer in Srinagar — and cow vigilantism and farmers protests in BJP-ruled states.
In sum, the monsoon session will have its share of political cloudbursts.