Preparing for the monsoon session
The monsoon session of Parliament kicks off on July 19. This will be the first session after a majority of parliamentarians have been vaccinated, and will hopefully ease the convening of both Houses while complying with safety considerations. It will be the first session since Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expanded and reshuffled his council of ministers; the new faces in the executive will now begin their process of legislative accountability. It is the first session since the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic devastated lives in the country in the summer. It is the first session since the Bharatiya Janata Party lost the West Bengal election, and a strong regional party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, returned to power in Tamil Nadu. And it is happening at a time when Opposition parties have mounted renewed efforts at unity, and the political climate has heated up in the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next year.
All of this will have an impact on the nature of the session. While the government will be keen to push through its legislative agenda, the Opposition will be keen to corner the government on national security (particularly the border standoff with China), public health (particularly Covid-19 management and vaccination), state of democracy (particularly the road map in Jammu and Kashmir and new media rules), and economy and price rise (particularly of fuel). The polarised political climate will be a challenge, and both sides will be keen to advance their respective agendas.
But it is crucial that the government gives space to the other side, consults the Opposition including on bills, and answers difficult questions transparently. It is as crucial that the Opposition acknowledges that legislative majority allows the government to advance its objective, and provides constructive inputs while holding it accountable. A robust and functional session is important for Indian democracy.
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