Ahead of the winter session of Parliament that begins on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to all political parties to hold debate and discussion on different issues and policy-making because it was the most important job of all parliamentarians.
During an all-party meeting called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Sunday, Modi said the winter session should be as productive as the previous session of Parliament. The government plans to introduce and pass at least 27 bills in the winter session, apart from 10 bills pending in Rajya Sabha and 2 bills pending before Lok Sabha.
“The government is ready to discuss all issues within the framework of rules and procedures of the two Houses," said Pralhad Joshi, parliamentary affairs minister, quoting Modi. The Prime Minister also said that the Union government would work together with all political parties to pass pending legislation and frame policy framework for specific issues related to environment and pollution, the economy, the agricultural sector and farmers.
Among the important bills which are likely to be taken up for discussion in the winter session are citizenship amendment bill, Taxation Law (Amendment) Bill, 2019, bill for prohibition of electronic cigarettes, International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019, Disaster Management (First Amendment) Bill, 2019, Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 and Maintenance and Welfare of parents and Senior Citizens (amendment) Bill, 2019.
The 26-day winter session is expected to witness a face-off between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Opposition parties led by Congress as they plan to demand a discussion on the ongoing situation in Jammu and Kashmir, including the detention of elected representatives. Meanwhile, the BJP leadership is expected to demand an apology from former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for making allegations of corruption in the Rafale fighter jet case. BJP has been holding nationwide protests against Gandhi after the Supreme Court gave a clean chit to the government for the Rafale jet order. The Opposition on its part is demanding a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to investigate the aircraft deal.
Opposition parties are also demanding a detailed discussion on the state of the economy and slowdown, the growing problem of unemployment, political developments in Maharashtra and Karnataka and the implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to corner the government. The session ends on 13 December.
“Farooq Abdullah of National Conference is under detention since over three months, he should be allowed to attend winter session of Parliament," demanded Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of Opposition (LoP) in Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader. Congress has also demanded that former finance minister P. Chidambaram, who is in judicial custody in Tihar jail over corruption allegations, should also be allowed to attend the proceedings of Parliament.
The government and the Opposition are also expected to clash over the citizenship amendment bill. BJP and its alliance partners are pushing for the bill but Opposition parties have raised serious concerns and want more discussion on the bill.
Setting the tone of confrontation between BJP and Opposition is Shiv Sena—former alliance partner of BJP which is trying to join hands with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra for government formation —which skipped a meeting of NDA called by BJP.
“Shiv Sena is not coming to NDA meeting. Shiv Sena leader Arvind Sawant resigned as a minister. They are trying to work with Congress; so naturally, they have opted to sit in Opposition and we have agreed to it. We are allotting them a seat in opposition both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha," said Joshi.