Updated: July 19, 2021 2:19:52 am
IN A coordinated effort to corner the government during the Monsoon Session which begins Monday, the Opposition parties have decided to raise three key issues in the House: the ongoing farmers’ agitation, rising fuel prices, and the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the Centre’s vaccination strategy.
Top Opposition leaders met here on Sunday, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told an all-party meeting that the government was ready for a meaningful discussion on various issues.
Sources said the Opposition parties will give notices demanding discussions on the farmers’ agitation and the rise in fuel prices, suspending all other business — a plea which governments rarely accept.
With the Punjab Assembly elections due early next year, the farmers’ issue is important for the Congress. Both the Akali Dal and the Aam Aadmi Party have signalled that they plan to raise the issue in Parliament.
Sources said the Opposition leaders decided to give voice to the farmers’ groups who have been protesting at Delhi’s borders for over six months now. “They (protesting farmers) have decided to march to Parliament on July 22. We discussed holding a dharna in Parliament on the same day in solidarity with them,” said a leader.
The meeting, chaired by Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, was attended by Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the party’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma, its chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh and other Opposition leaders including NCP’s Sharad Pawar, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, CPM’s Elamaram Kareem, CPI’s Binoy Viswam and RSP’s N K Premachandran.
According to sources, there was divergence of views among the parties on prioritising the issues to be raised in Parliament. While the Left leaders are said to have suggested that the Opposition should raise the issue of farmers’ protest first, the Congress was of the view that price rise should be brought up on the opening day.
Sources said notices will be given on both the issues and a final call will be taken at a meeting of the Opposition floor leaders on Monday morning.
According to sources, the Opposition leaders also talked briefly about reports that a phone-tapping expose that was expected on Sunday night. “We don’t know what is going to come out. We have decided to meet again at 10 am Monday. We will see what comes out and accordingly decide our floor strategy,” said an Opposition leader.
Chowdhury said the Opposition parties hope the government will agree to debate issues which are agitating the nation. “The Prime Minister himself said at the all-party meeting that the government was ready to discuss all issues. Let’s see what happens in Parliament now,” he said.
Besides the three key issues, the Congress is also keen to raise the government’s handling of the Chinese aggression at the borders and the fresh revelations in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
The Trinamool Congress wants to raise the issue of cooperative federalism and “overreach” by Governors. The tussle between the Mamata Banerjee government and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has escalated after the Assembly elections results in West Bengal.
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