The Monsoon session of Parliament that is scheduled to begin on July 18 is assumed to be the last in the present building with the new parliament nearing completion . The hint that the new parliament will begin from the winter session was indicated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi who unveiled the national emblem atop the roof of the new building.
Before the move however, the old building will see change of of guard at Rashtrapati Bhawan as the much talked about Presidential polls 2022 between NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu and Opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha are slated on July 18. The day the session opens. The results will be declared on 21st and the new President is expected to be sworn in 25th July. Incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind’s five- year term ends on July 24th.
Besides the Presidential polls 2022, the session is expected to be stormy one with the opposition if they can get their act together can corner the government on host of issues :
a) The issue that is likely to rage in parliament is the Agnipath scheme in the armed forces as announced by the government. According to the announcement , aspirants will be appointed on contract basis for a period of four years in the three divisions of the country’s armed forces i.e. land, navy and air force. Young people in the age group of 17-21 years can join. However, the age limit was later increased to 23 years. The soldier will be identified as ‘Agniveer.
b) The targeted killings in Jammu and Kashmir continues unabated even after abrogation of Article 370 and removal of special status 35 A. The killings of Rahul Bhat, Amreen, Bhat , Rajni Bala and Vijay Kumar means the government Home Minister Amit Shah, Jammu and Kashmir LG Manoj Sinha have lot to answer. The normalcy as claimed is not seen on the ground . Omar Abdullah former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference Vice – President in a tweet aptly summed up the ground situation as he wrote, Tourism is not normalcy, it’s a barometer of economic activity. Normalcy is the absence of fear, the absence of terror, the inability of militants to strike at will, the presence of democratic rule & by any yardstick you choose to use, Kashmir is far from normal today.
c) The use of government agencies like CBI , ED to target opposition leaders is bound to be raised in parliament by parties like the Congress, TMC , AAP. Interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been summoned by ED to appear in the National Herald case on July 21 in midst of the session. So expect fireworks from Congress. ED had earlier for five days questioned former party president Rahul Gandhi on the money laundering in the National herald case.
d) The suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s comments on Prophet Muhammad had sparked off a major row. With SC judge Justice Surya Kant making scathing observations on her remarks the pressure is on the government to act. The killings at Udaipur and Amravati for backing Nupur has made the issue much larger to confront.
e) The dramatic Uddhav Thackeray MVA( Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress) government collapse and the subsequent installation of the rebel Shiv Sena group led by Eknath Shinde in alliance with BJP is expected to be raised in both the houses. BJP at first denied any hand in the Siv Sena rebellion. But the subsequent help to rebel Shinde group MLA’s to stay in hotels of Surat, Guwahati, and later on in Goa all BJP ruled states clearly indicate the tacit support to Shinde faction. The change of guard in Maharashtra has once again given the opposition to charge the BJP of repeatedly toppling non- BJP government’s with money power and threats by agencies read CBI, ED.
f) The TMC- BJP face- off shows no signs of ebbing and now the slugfest is likely to continue with the Goddess Kali comments made by TMC MP Mahua Moitra and the BJP .
g) The opposition is likely to question government on the Border face- off with China. As numerous talks have yielded no results. China has voiced it’s concern over ED raids on it’s firm mobile telecom firm Vivo.
h) External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is expected to brief the houses on India’s stand on Ukraine, Sri Lanka ( ravaged by economic debacle) , Afghanistan and how to engage with Pakistan under Shehbaz Sharif.
i) BJP is likely to target the AAP government in Punjab over the killing of Congress leader and singer Sidhu Moosewala a day after the AAP government in Punjab pruned the security cover of the singer and 423 people temporarily. The Ashok Gehlot Congress government over the killing of tailor Kanhaiya Lal . Interestingly , while the BJP national executive at Hyderabad did pay tributes to Kanhaiya Lal and Sidhu Moosewala It was conspicuous on it’s silence on the killings of – Rahul Bhat, TV actress Amreen Bhat, teacher Rajni Bala and banker Vijay Kumar in Jammu and Kashmir.
Clearly the gloves are off between the government and opposition . Amid the bitter acrimony it remains to be seen how much the session is productive one in terms of business and fruitful dates on all issues. Given the past house proceedings it is safe to keep fingers crossed.