Parliament’s Monsoon Session: A test for Government and Opposition

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There are several issues on which the opposition would like to put the government on the mat during the Monsoon session of the Parliament. It will witness uproar against violence by the self-styled ‘go rakshaks’, protests by farmers in some parts of the country, continuing unrest in Kashmir and India’s stand-off with China among others.

On the eve of Parliament’s monsoon session Prime Minister, Narendra Modi spoke on the highly sensitive issue of cow vigilantism. Many saw it as an attempt to placate the opposition which had been critical of Modi’s silence over the issue which has been agitating the country, specially the intelligentsia.

However, though violence by the self-styled “go rakshaks” is an important issue there are several other issues on which the opposition would like to put the government on the mat during the session. Some of these include protests by farmers in some parts of the country, continuing unrest in Kashmir and India’s stand-off with China.

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad has already made it clear that Congress and its allies would target the government over both Kashmir and China. He alleged that there was political suffocation in the valley as government closed all doors for dialogue. The opposition would also seek a debate over the face-off with China in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan trijunction.

However, the issue of cow vigilantism has been one that concerns all sections of society with a strong focus on Muslims as self-proclaimed cow protectors who have been attacking the members of this community as also dalits. Aware of the growing resentment against his government on the issue the Prime Minister has sought to make it clear that states should act tough against people indulging in violence in the name of cow protection. He also emphasized the need for people to desist from giving the issue a political and communal colour.

Ever since these attacks began there have been protests in the form of demonstrations and dharnas. Civil society members have campaigned against it all over the country. The BJP has faced wide ranging criticism over the issue.

Parties like Trinamul Congress and Lalu Prasad- led Rashtriya Janata Dal are also raring to attack the government over the action of law enforcement agencies such as the CBI and the ED against their leaders over alleged corruption charges.

Then there are economic issues such as growing unemployment which can be taken up by parties like Janata Dal (United) with which the BJP is trying to rebuild bridges in the politically crucial state of Bihar where the Grand Alliance of JD(U), RJD and Congress seems to be on the verge of collapse. The BJP has sent feelers to JD(U) boss and Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar that it is ready toe extend outside support to his government if the RJD pulls out on the issue of demand for the resignation of RJD chief, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son, Tejaswi Yadav following charges of corruption.

The JD(U) has also extended support to NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind which, according to some observers, was the first sign of Nitish softening his stand towards NDA and distancing himself from UPA and RJD though the party has agreed to back UPA’s vice-presidential candidate.

But all this should not be construed to mean that JD(U) would compromise on major political issues and refrain from making an issue of growing unemployment. The party had accused the Modi government of failing to fulfil its promises of creating jobs.

The BJP, however, is not unduly worried. Its leaders maintain that they won’t shirk from facing the opposition challenge as the government has nothing to fear. “We have an excellent track record and we are ready to take them on,” said a BJP leader.

By all accounts them this is going to be an interesting session that would not only help the government and the opposition assess their respective strengths but also impact the politics of the country as a whole. [July 16-31,2017]

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