China,'Act of God' will rattle the government

The India-China logjam, the slump in GDP growth, the poor GST collections – which have been described as an act of God -- and the return of the migrants to the host states – are the prickly issues that will dominate the Monsoon session of Parliament. Hovering over the session will be the invisible enemy – the Covid-19 pandemic – and the roadmap ahead.

The session, which is scheduled to start on Monday and conclude on October 1, will have a total of 18 consecutive sittings with no holiday or weekend breaks.

The agenda for the session was chalked out during a business advisory committee (BAC) meeting called by the Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla on Sunday. It is understood that AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi raised the issue of India-China standoff and underscored the need for Parliament to know what was happening at the LAC. Owaisi suggested that the government could brief the MPs alone, since this is a matter of national security, and keep the media at bay.

The government is said to have told the BAC that the matter can be taken up during the Tuesday meeting when the BAC meets for the second time. However, it is believed that as of now there will be just a statement from Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

The government has listed 11 ordinances for passage, apart from 12 legislations. Opposition MPs are not enthused at the prospect of the government taking the Ordinance route for passage of Bills and expediting them in a hurry without proper legislative scrutiny. It is also seen as an attempt by the government to duck contentious issues.

Like-minded opposition parties have decided to evolve a joint strategy to take on the government on key issues before the country, including the handling of the pandemic, the state of the economy and the Chinese aggression at the border in Ladakh.

Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said, "We want a discussion in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha on the situation at the border with China, the state of the economy, the closure of businesses, the state of the MSME industry, the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues like airport privatisation and the draft EIA notification."

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi will not be holding an all-party meeting before the session.

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Free Press Journal