New Delhi: The upcoming budget session of Parliament was headed for days of disruption with the opposition rejecting the overtures of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at an all-party meeting on Tuesday, virtually ensuring a continuation of the legislative deadlock of previous sessions.

At stake are bills that are important to the government’s economic reforms agenda, including the constitutional amendment bill to roll out a goods and services tax (GST) and the real estate bill.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the government offered an olive branch to the Congress-led opposition parties, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing himself as the Prime Minister of the country and not the leader of any one party, said a senior cabinet minister who was in the meeting.

Senior ministers also told opposition leaders that anti-India slogans raised at last week’s controversial protest event held at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were unacceptable to the government.

“The Prime Minister has tried to reach out to the opposition parties. He told the gathering that he was Prime Minister of the country and not of a single party. Modi even invited all leaders that they can meet him whenever they want to discuss any issue. The Prime Minister also told leaders that he will look into the concerns raised by them in the all-party meeting," said the cabinet minister.

Even though the government has agreed to discuss all issues with the opposition, including the continuing protests following the arrest of JNU students’ union president Kanhaiya Kumar, senior leaders of the NDA feel that opposition parties, especially the Congress, may not allow Parliament to function.

“We feel that the Congress party will not allow Parliament to function. The passage of crucial bills looks difficult. The government cannot allow anti-India slogans to be raised. The government tried to reason it out with opposition leaders that what happened in JNU was unacceptable," said a senior NDA leader who was also part of the meeting.

Controversial issues likely to be raised by the Congress in the budget session include the developments in JNU, the death by suicide of Hyderabad Central University scholar Rohith Vemula, the state of economy and the political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh, which could lead to repeated disruptions, especially in the Rajya Sabha.

“There has been a number of issues which needs to be raised and we will raise it in the session. The government needs to answer these questions and with the approach that they have right now, the fate of the budget session cannot be told," said a senior Congress member from Lok Sabha requesting anonymity.

“We are trying that other opposition parties also join us in raising these issues during the session. The (ruling) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) needs to treat the opposition parties better and unless that happens, a breakthrough in this repeated deadlock is very difficult," the leader added.

After the meeting on Tuesday, Union parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that there was general consensus that Parliament should run swiftly, adding that the Trinamool Congress (TMC) pushed for the passage of the GST bill in the session. Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, told reporters after the meeting that the atmosphere in the country has been vitiated after the BJP came to power and that the government has taken no action against the people responsible for it.

“This session is going to be another washout," said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst. “One cannot have an antagonistic approach in a democratic set up. The NDA government needs to understand that its ideological identity should be politically subtle or else the legislative outcome of Parliament will get compromised."

“The government should always be circumspect about equations in the House before reacting to situations outside it," Mrug added.

Close
×
My Reads Logout