New Delhi: The monsoon session of Parliament will be held from 18 July to 10 August, the government announced on Monday, setting the stage for a possible test of opposition unity over the election of the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

While the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is keen that a candidate of its choice wins the election, the Congress party is also expected to try and retain the post which has been with it for four decades.

The dates were fixed at a meeting of the cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs (CCPA) on Monday chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh.

“The session would have a period of 18 working days and I appeal to all political parties to constructively cooperate with the government to make this session a productive one. The legislative business would include passing of six ordinances promulgated during the inter-session period before the monsoon session 2018," parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.

The term of the current deputy chairman P.J. Kurien comes to an end next month. Although the ruling NDA is in a minority in the Upper House, efforts by the Congress party to retain the post could face resistance from other opposition parties like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) who may want to field a candidate of their own.

Senior Congress leaders said all steps will be taken to ensure coordination between like-minded opposition parties both inside and outside Parliament during the session.

Leaders from Left parties said that it is important to take all opposition parties on board for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman elections.

“In due course, we will discuss with all opposition parties on the election for the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman. It is important that all like-minded parties are consulted. There are important issues which should be taken up for discussion in this session," said a leader from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), who did not wish to be named.

With less than a year to go for the next general elections, the monsoon session is also key for the government as it looks to push its legislative agenda.

The last session of Parliament, where the budget was presented, was the least productive since 2000—repeated adjournments saw Lok Sabha productivity at 21% and the Rajya Sabha at 31%. Bills to criminalize the practice of instant triple talaq and get constitutional status for the National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC) which are pending in Parliament will also be taken up for discussion.

Bills lined up for this session include: the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill, 2017, Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, and Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Opposition parties will also look to corner the government over various burning issues, including increased fuel and commodity prices, the Jammu and Kashmir ceasefire and political developments in the state, bank frauds and the Karnataka assembly elections.

“We are hopeful that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government will show the courage of listening to the voice of the country through the opposition," Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Monday.