In an indication that the second half of the Budget Session of Parliament, commencing from Monday, is going to be a stormy affair, the Opposition parties are planning to corner the government over iss
In an indication that the second half of the Budget Session of Parliament, commencing from Monday, is going to be a stormy affair, the Opposition parties are planning to corner the government over issues, including the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand. The Uttarakhand issue also dominated the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. The government’s floor managers have decided to brazen it out and hit back on the Uttarakhand issue by citing specific cases of the use of Article 356 by successive governments in the past. The Congress has made it clear that it would seek a discussion on the contentious issue despite the government’s claim that the matter, being sub-judice, cannot be deliberated upon. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who had held discussions with select party leaders during a strategy meeting on the Uttarakhand crisis, had suggested that the party take an aggressive stand on this issue.
The government has also listed a heavy agenda for the session, including passage of 13 bills in the Lok Sabha and 11 bills in the Rajya Sabha. Government floor managers, however, are unlikely to push for contentious measures like the Goods and Sevices Tax (GST) Bill in the first few days. Financial business, including discussion in the Lok Sabha on demands for grants of various ministries and the working of some ministries in the Rajya Sabha, consideration and passing of the Railways Appropriation Bill, 2016, and Finance Bill of 2016, constitute the main agenda of this session.
After the all-party meeting, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said his party MPs would move an adjournment motion seeking a discussion on it under Rule 56. Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma has also sought a resolution by the Upper House that seeks to “deplore” the “destabilisation” of the democratically elected government in Uttarakhand and “disapprove the unjustified” imposition of President’s Rule in the state.
However, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy contended, “To my knowledge, the matter is before the court and when the issue is pending in court and a decision is yet to come, there is no scope for a discussion on it. The Speaker has to take a decision on it.” Even the Speaker appeared to share the government’s view when she replied, “The court has given stay till April 27 (floor test in Uttarakhand) and I don’t think till 27th (there can be a discussion).”
However, Mr Kharge insisted on a discussion on the issue as it was important and many Opposition members wanted it. The Congress, supported by the Left, JD(U) and other Opposition parties, is determined to corner the Centre over the imposition of President’s Rule in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh, calling it an “assault” on the federal structure.
On the government’s contention, and that of the Speaker, that a debate on Uttarakhand was not possible as the matter was sub-judice, Mr Kharge said the Chair was competent to allow a discussion, setting aside the rules. A number of Opposition parties have given notices for suspension of Question Hour on the first day of the session over the Uttarakhand issue and sought a discussion on the drought in the first week.
Another MoS for parliamentary affairs, Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said if the Congress raised the issue of President’s Rule in the hill state, it would have to answer why it used Article 356 several times in the past to dismiss popularly elected governments which enjoyed majority and there being no constitutional breakdown, indicating the government’s readiness to brazen it out in Parliament. The government is likely to reel out figures regarding imposition of President’s Rule from the time of India’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru. to the incumbent, Mr Narendra Modi.
A discussion on the prevailing drought situation in many parts of India is another issue that all parties want discussed. “Drought across the country is a major issue and there was a demand by all for a discussion on it. All have extended their support. We all hope that the coming Lok Sabha session will function smoothly,” Ms Mahajan said.
Apart from the Uttarakhand issue, the Congress will also target the government over imposition of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, the Ishrat Jahan case, drought management and alleged communalisation of educational institutes.
During the 15 sittings of the session, besides ratification of the presidential proclamation in Uttarakhand under Article 356 of the Constitution, two ordinances — the Uttarakhand Appropriation (Vote on Account) Ordinance, 2016, and The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Second Ordinance, 2016, are also on the agenda.