New Delhi: Confrontation appears imminent in the monsoon session of Parliament beginning on Monday with a combative Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telling the opposition bluntly of having “too many skeletons in its cupboard”, a remark that raised the hackles of the BJP.
“We are not afraid of discussing issues of corruption. The opposition also has too many skeletons in its cupboard. We are not afraid of discussing any issue,” Singh told reporters after an all party meeting convened by Speaker Meira Kumar on the eve of the Monsoon Session.
Singh’s remark came in response to a question whether the government was apprehensive of a tough session ahead in view of the Left and the Right making common cause on the issue of corruption and price rise.
Virtually accepting Singh’s challenge, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj dared the government declaring “let us see who attacks whom from tomorrow”.
She also accused Singh of starting a confrontation even before the start of the five-week long session.
“See he has started it. The government is free to bring out all the arrows in its quiver. Let us see who has more arrows in its quiver,” she countered.
With the BJP and the Left set to mount pressure on the 2G issue, Singh sought to take the sting out of Opposition attack, saying Parliament should not “pre-judge” it as the matter was before court.
“The matter is before court. It should be left to be decided by the court and Parliament should not pre-judge the issue,” he said.
The session is expected to be tumultuous with the Opposition raring to have a go at the government on a host of issues ranging from corruption and price rise to Telangana and terrorism.
Singh said there were some matters which were in courts and were being investigated by the CBI.
“I sincerely hope that these matters should be left to be decided by courts,” he said.
Swaraj, however, disagreed saying “issues are decided inside Parliament not outside.”
Giving more than hints that the mood of the Opposition was expected to be aggressive, she said there were a number of issues stacked up against the government which has convened a session of Parliament after a long gap.
“We would like the House to function so that the issues are discussed. The issue of price rise concerns the common man; the issue of corruption too is prevalent. The issue of internal security related to the Mumbai blasts is also there. The situation in Telangana has taken a big shape. Air India is in a bad shape, naxalism is raising its fangs,” she said.
Swaraj said the Opposition has given notice on international issues like the pre-conditions set by the Nuclear Suppliers Group as also the matter of attacks on Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan waters.
The BJP and several other parties including the AIADMK, have been gunning for the Prime Minister and home minister P. Chidambaram in the wake of former telecom minister A. Raja’s allegations against them in the 2G case.
Congress leaders privately admit that matters could be tough for the UPA coalition if the Opposition presses for a motion that entails voting on issues like price rise and corruption.
“We have not thought of it yet,” remarked Swaraj when asked whether the Opposition was planning to move a No Confidence Motion or an Adjournment Motion.
The Prime Minister hoped that the monsoon session would be peaceful and productive that would allow Parliament to devote its attention to a host of issues facing the nation.
Amid the Opposition heat, the Yeddyurappa issue appears to have come as a godsend opportunity for the Congress. The ruling party is expected to counter the BJP on the issue of corruption by pointing fingers at the illegal mining scam in Karnataka.
A tussle between the government and the Opposition over the much-talked about Lokpal Bill could take place with plans afoot for its introduction in Lok Sabha by August three.
There has been no unanimity in the ruling UPA over the issue of keeping the Prime Minister out of the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog.
In the midst of the session, Anna Hazare’s indefinite fast on the Lokpal issue is scheduled to start on 16 August and is bound to have its repercussion in Parliament.
Asked to comment on Hazare’s fast, Singh said the Lokpal Bill’s fate will be decided by Parliament and it should.
“As you know, we are ready with the Lokpal Bill. Lokpal Bill’s fate will be decided by Parliament. In a democracy, Parliament is a sovereign body, it should be allowed to function and discharge its duty,” he said.
The Telangana issue has also become a matter of concern for the government with several MPs, including many from the Congress, resigning over the statehood demand.
“We will overcome the issue,” Singh said when asked to comment on it.