New Delhi: With inflation scaling a 40-month high ahead of key elections in Karnataka, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, government is bracing for an attack from the Opposition as well as some of its allies when Parliament resumes for the budget session on Tuesday.
This part of the session, critical because of the impending passage of the Finance Bill, is scheduled to last till 9 May.
“Price rise, price rise, price rise are the three most important issues that must be discussed in Parliament without delay,” said Gurudas Dasgupta, leader of the Communist Party of India, or CPI, in the Lok Sabha. “No other national issue is as important for an overwhelming majority of the population.”
The four-party Left Front that supports the UPA from outside, together with the eight-party United National Progressive Alliance, or UNPA, plans to launch a week-long campaign against the Centre’s failure to contain inflation with a march to Parliament on Tuesday morning.
A political challenge of this nature could derail the UPA government’s plans to bring new legislations. While five of the 11 Bills listed for introduction, consideration and passing were cleared during the first part of the session, the government was able to introduce just one of the 20 Bills so listed.
Meanwhile, the main Opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, has decided to move an adjournment motion in both Houses on Tuesday, while the Left Front said it would like the issue to be raised under Rule 193 that permits a short discussion.
To the Left’s embarrassment, the UNPA also wants an adjournment motion, which, if admitted, leads to setting aside the normal business of the houses.
“The government had promised to check inflation, but it failed to do so at the ground level,” BJP’s L.K. Advani, leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, said in Indore on Monday, “The Opposition will corner the government on the issue in Parliament.”
“Price rise is an important issue also because, perhaps for the first time, we have a government that has admitted to helplessness in dealing with the situation,” said Mohan Singh, a Lok Sabha member of the Samajwadi Party, a constituent of the UNPA.
Even as the Opposition gears up to take on the government, Bidyut Chakrabarty, a political scientist at Delhi University, said the government would try to make the most of the Supreme Court’s approval for quota for candidates of other backward classes, or OBC, in centrally-funded institutions. “The government’s reluctance to challenge the exclusion of the creamy layer indicates that it wants to derive maximum political benefit from the decision,” Chakrabarty said. “So, even as the government will face the music on inflation, it will try to cash in on the OBC quota.”
Jayanti Natarajan, a spokesperson of the Congress party, said, “Our main concern is that the House should function. Whatever the issue, the House must be allowed to function. Secondly, we hope the Bill on women’s reservation is tabled during this session.”