The Budget Session of Parliament could be off to a noisy start as the Opposition Congress is set to raise the issue of price rise on the first day itself to push the Modi government on the backfoot and send across a message that the party would be aggressive in Parliament despite its depleted strength in the Lok Sabha.
Sources said a notice for an adjournment motion has been given seeking a discussion on the issue of price rise. Sources in the party said the top leadership has already got in touch with several opposition parties and indicated there could be some amount of coordination on the floor of the House.
The move to take on the government comes at a time when it is reluctant to grant the Leader of the Opposition status to Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in the Lok Sabha. The issue has sparked tension between the two sides. Kharge has already made it known that the Congress’s approach in Parliament could be similar to that of the BJP when it was in the opposition.
Sources said the party would also target the government over the increase in railway fare and freight. Sources in the party said it hopes to find common ground with parties like the Trinamool Congress and the Left. The BJD too could lend its support, sources said.
In the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling alliance is in a minority, the Congress is readying its strategy to pin the government down on the issue of inflation. “Before the elections, the BJP had promised to crack down on inflation and price rise and to my mind 80 per cent of the anti-UPA voting pattern in the country was because of the perception created by the BJP that UPA faltered and is responsible for the price rise situation. The UPA took 10 years for those levels of inflation to be reached, but this government took just one month to hike rail fares, kerosene, petrol and diesel prices. They owe an explanation to 1.2 billion people,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad who has been chosen as the leader of the Congress Legislative Party in the Upper House and is also expected to be designated as the Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House.
Asked whether his party would adopt BJP’s tactics of disruption, Azad said: “We will not oppose for the sake of opposition or obstruct for the mere sake of obstruction. But we will certainly hold BJP to its pre-poll promises, particularly on the issue of price rise.”
Sources in the Congress said the transfer of Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal to Manipur on the eve of the Budget session reflected the confrontationist attitude of the Modi government. Beniwal had been at loggerheads with the BJP government in Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the chief minister. The BJP, in fact, had more than one occasion demanded her recall and even approached the President.