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A general view of Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)
A general view of Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Centre comes under pressure from opposition parties over China issue

During the meeting of some of the bigger political parties of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, a section of opposition leaders have also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak on the issue of India-China

New Delhi: Couple of days after the commencement of monsoon session of Parliament, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has come under pressure from opposition parties that have demanded that there should be detailed statement of the union government on the stand-off between India-China in Ladakh.

During the meeting of some of the bigger political parties of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday with the representatives of union government, a section of opposition leaders have also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should speak on the issue of India-China. However, it is expected that defence minister Rajnath Singh could put across the point of view of the union government on the stand-off this week.

“Opposition parties have demanded a detailed statement and details of the steps taken by the union government since April when the border problems with China first started. We want to know what happened in Galwan, how many Indian soldiers were martyred, how many Chinese soldiers died in the clash and what are the steps taken by the government both diplomatically and otherwise to safeguard the interest of the country. Since PM Modi has said at the beginning of the that monsoon session that the stand-off is a sensitive issue and everyone should stand with the soldiers, we expect that PM Modi will speak on the issue in Parliament," said a senior leader of a regional party who attended the meeting on Wednesday.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is also under pressure from key opposition parties which are demanding that four of the 11 legislations listed in the current Parliament session to replace ordinances, should be sent for further parliamentary scrutiny. The four legislations include three related to farm sector and one on amendments to banking regulation.

Among the ordinances that have created difference with opposition are Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 which got passed in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The is also problematic for the BJP because one of its oldest alliance partner, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has openly come out against the ordinances related to farmers. SAD leadership has made it clear to BJP leaders that it would be difficult for the party to support these ordinances since the party believes they would not benefit farmers.

“Before introducing these bills, they should at least have consulted the parties that are essentially farmers' parties and their allies. Our minister, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, had expressed her reservations when the matter was taken up during a cabinet meeting," SAD chief Sukhbir Badal told PTI adding that his party is opposed to the Bill and that the center must find ways to address concerns of farmers.

The political tussle over the farm ordinances, legislations for which have been brought in the current session, has escalated in the past few days. On Wednesday, BJP president Jagat Prakash Nadda said that the bills were ‘far-sighted’ as it will boost agricultural production while Punjab chief minister and senior Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh warned that passage of the bills will cause “resentment and unrest" in his state.

The issue of bills which will replace ordinances came up for discussion in an informal meeting of leaders of key parliamentary parties of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday evening. According to people aware of developments, the union government has said that a parliamentary scrutiny will delay the process and be detrimental to the reforms it has been set in for.

“The opposition reiterated that the four legislations should be sent for further parliamentary scrutiny – either standing committee or select committee but the union government has largely remained non committal over it. A senior minister informally briefed saying that a scrutiny will delay roll out of the bills which are immediate in nature," a senior leader who attended the meeting on Wednesday said requesting anonymity.

“Another round of meeting could be called next Friday to discuss the issues. Unless there is a breakthrough in between, it is unlikely that these four bills will be tabled for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha," the leader added.

According to people aware of developments, there was a demand by opposition that apart from discussion on covid-19, four other topics should be taken up for a formal discussion in Rajya Sabha – state of the economy, Goods and Services Tax (GST) compensation issue, National Education Policy (NEP) and draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification. The leader quoted above added that there was an ‘in-principle agreement’ on taking up the issues but there was no final decision was taken.

Monsoon session of Parliament, which began on Monday, is on till 1 October with 15 more working days remaining. In one of a kind session, sittings of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha are taking place in different shifts and work will continue on all days including weekends.

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