Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday chaired a meeting of the party’s Parliament strategy group to identify issues to be raised to corner the BJP-led NDA government in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning Monday.
The booklet issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, listing “unparliamentary words” for both Houses, is, meanwhile, set to add sting to the Opposition’s attack.
The second half of the Budget Session had seen a lack of coordination between opposition parties. This time, the Congress has decided to reach out to other opposition parties to ensure floor coordination.
The session is scheduled to conclude on August 13.
In Thursday’s meeting, lasting about an hour, the party decided to raise issues such as inflation and rise in fuel prices, the Agnipath scheme for recruitment in the three forces, a ballooning unemployment, an attack on the country’s federal structure, the economic situation and steady slide of the rupee against the US dollar, atrocities against minorities and hate speeches, misuse of investigative agencies such as CBI and ED, and the continuing standoff with China along the LAC in Ladakh.
The Congress has also decided to raise the issue of what it called “dilution of forest conservation rules”.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said the party will seek discussions under various rules on all these issues. He said the floor leaders of opposition parties will meet on Sunday, a day before the session gets under way, to discuss a joint strategy.
The party’s Lok Sabha leader, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the government is yet to reveal Bills that it plans to introduce and take up during the session. But the party, he said, will oppose any attempt to amend the Banking Regulation Act.
There are reports that the government is seeking to remove the 10-per cent shareholding cap for individuals in public sector banks, which will enable private equity firms to pick up stakes in banks that are on the block for privatisation.
Stating that the Congress wants Parliament to function smoothly, Chowdhury said the government should allow the Opposition to reflect issues faced by the people in both Houses.
On inclusion of several words in the list of unparliamentary phrases, sources said opposition parties will convey their concern to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
“It is an attempt to strangulate democracy. We were witness to similar tactics in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the chief minister. I was then the Leader of Opposition,” Rajya Sabha MP Shaktisinh Gohil said at a media conference that he addressed along with Kharge, Chowdhury and Jairam Ramesh, Congress’s general secretary in charge of communication.
Kharge said the government should have called a meeting and consulted the Opposition before “expanding the list” of unparliamentary words. “We will raise [the issue in Parliament]. We will keep on saying those words. Let them keep expunging it. Let’s see,” he said.
“We will keep saying what we have been saying,” Ramesh added.