Monsoon session unlikely to be a dull affair

New Delhi: With a range of issues in the armoury of the Opposition, the Monsoon session of Parliament beginning Wednesday is expected to generate heat and dust over a variety of subjects like price rise, economy and the situation in Assam.

The month-long session will be a test for Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde who has been made the Leader of the Lok Sabha in the wake of exit of Pranab Mukherjee, who has been the chief troubleshooter of the government for eight-long years.

Riots in Assam, which the Prime Minister has dubbed as a blot on the nation, are likely to witness charges and counter-charges between the Congress and the opposition as also the death of Amarnath pilgrims.

A spate of railway accidents, including the one involving the Tamil Nadu Express, is expected to be utilised by a section of the opposition to drive a wedge in the ruling UPA as Mamata Banerjee`s Trinamool Congress is in charge of the key ministry.

Pune blasts as also the collapse of the power grid in the North and the east are among the issues that are likely to be raised by the opposition.

With the monsoon playing truant in several parts of the country, the focus would also turn to the drought situation amid demands for a national water policy and a better deal for farmers.

The Left parties have taken up the issue of the Food Security bill in a big way. They are also expected to take up the killing of tribals in Chhattisgarh and the violence at the Maruti plant in Manesar.

Ahead of the session, talk in the ruling circles is that a UPA Coordination Committee will be in place and could have its first meeting on the opening day of the session, thereby projecting a united face of the alliance.

As many as 31 bills have been listed for consideration in the month-long session, which will conclude on September 7.

The bills include those on Forward Contracts, Banking laws, whistle-blowers and women`s reservation as also the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials bill.

The Left and Right could make a common cause on the issue of FDI in retail as also the Aircel-Maxis deal in which P Chidambaram, who is now the Finance Minister, is under attack for alleged involvement of his family members.

Already, there have been demands for an all-party meeting before a final decision is taken on FDI in retail.

The issue of price rise, prices of diesel and petrol, forward contracts, declining confidence in corporate sector over economy could also come up.

Government managers have been insisting that they were ready for discussion on any issue. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal expressed hope that like the last session, this session too would be a good and productive one as regards transaction of government business.

Though the much-talked about Lokpal bill has not been listed for consideration, the managers have been maintaining that it would be brought up expeditiously once the report from the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha is submitted.

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, debated in the Rajya Sabha and later referred to the Select Committee.

The Select Committee is expected to give its report on the first day of the last week of the monsoon session.

In May this year, in yet another twist, the controversial Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was referred to the select committee of Rajya Sabha, further delaying the setting up of the anti-graft ombudsman which has been hanging fire for 42 years.

The bill, on which the debate had remained inconclusive in the Rajya Sabha during the last winter session, was referred to the select committee through a motion soon after minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy moved it for consideration and passage.