New Delhi: Three important meetings on Monday do not appear to have cleared the path for the smooth functioning of Parliament. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and the speaker separately held meetings with representatives of all parties, and the NDA also called for a meeting of all its constituents, the first such, to discuss ways to counter the opposition in Parliament.

The monsoon session that starts on Tuesday will see the government trying to push through important bills related to land acquisition and the goods and services tax, even as the opposition, led by the Congress, demands the resignation of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

For the NDA, and its dominant constituent the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the session is about establishing its reformist credentials. For the opposition, it is about establishing their relevance in a situation where the NDA lords it over the lower house of Parliament.

And for the Congress, which led the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, it is about paying the BJP back in kind—the latter disrupted Parliament frequently between 2004 and 2014, protesting the involvement of UPA ministers in several corruption scandals.

For the BJP, which rode to power last May on an anti-corruption and development platform, the smooth functioning of Parliament, achieved without making too many concessions, is also about saving face.

Swaraj, it has emerged, wrote to the UK’s foreign office, facilitating temporary transit papers to and from the UK for Lalit Modi, the former Indian Premier League commissioner, who is in self-imposed exile in London even as the Enforcement Directorate wants to question him over alleged financial irregularities in the conduct of the IPL.

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje wrote to UK authorities supporting Modi’s plea to emigrate to that country and there have been allegations of shady financial dealings between her son, also a member of Parliament, and Lalit Modi.

And Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the opposition parties claim, is involved in the Vyapam scam over admissions to various government posts and educational institutions. Many of the accused and some of the witnesses have died under mysterious circumstances.

At the government’s meeting with other parties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded opposition parties that the smooth running of Parliament was a shared responsibility.

“Let every issue be discussed in Parliament under the rules. Efforts shall be towards effective functioning of Parliament. During the last session, it was decided that some issues would be addressed during the next session. Of all the forums available for expression of one’s views, Parliament is the best. Let there be good debates and suggestions. We need to find solutions collectively. Yes, government has more responsibility in enabling normal functioning of Parliament but so does all of you," Modi said. “It is time that we move forward on the land bill issue, incorporating suggestions from all sides. We should move positively on this issue."

Both meetings ended unsatisfactorily. The Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) want the government to fire the foreign minister and the two chief ministers.

“It is they (BJP) who had disrupted an entire session in 2G spectrum matter (involving then telecom minister A. Raja) during UPA’s tenure after the Manmohan Singh government initially refused a probe. Then a Joint Parliamentary Committee was formed, and A. Raja had to resign. Why are they not applying the same yardstick to their ministers now? If they don’t apply that and Parliament is disrupted, then it is they who will be blamed for it," said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

And Modi’s plea on the land bill is unlikely to have any effect.

“Samajwadi Party (SP) does not agree with the kind of amendments that are being brought to the land bill. If the government compromises on it, then things could work. But the kind of unnecessary amendments which the government has brought, the SP will not agree to them," said senior party leader Ram Gopal Yadav. He also said that monsoon session may not be productive because the ‘the weather already seems bad".

In the course of the all-party meeting, parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told the opposition members that Swaraj was keen to make a statement on the allegations made against in the Lalit Modi issue. Naidu ruled out the option of having Swaraj or the CMs resign.

But the Congress continues to press for this. “We have told them that Congress is a responsible party and is in the favour that people friendly bill should be passed. Every bill will be passed on the basis of merit. It is true that work of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha is to make bills... but inter session incidents need to be highlighted to the public," said Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Sanjay Kumar, a political analyst and director at the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, said the monsoon session could be toughest for the NDA since it came to power. But he doesn’t think the opposition will keep up the pressure.

“In my opinion, the kind of political rhetoric which we saw before the session began, may not be there through the duration of the entire session," he said. Also, I am not sure if the opposition will be united. Clearly, all of them will not have the same approach on all the issues, even corruption. The Congress will have the toughest stand on all issues, The other opposition parties may or not have an equally tough stand."

Pretika Khanna and PTI contributed to this story.

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