Monsoon Session of Parliament begins – how much political give and takes will happen?

What surprises will the Monsoon session throw up?

What surprises will the Monsoon session throw up?
What surprises will the Monsoon session throw up?

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]F[/dropcap]rom Monday onwards, the Monsoon Session of the Parliament starts. Expect some big tussles between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition parties. The major opposition party Congress has not shown its cards on the passage of the BJP government’s prestigious GST Bill. Even after Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s repeated requests in the Sunday’s all party meeting, Congress’s floor leaders chose to keep their cards close to the chest. Not that the floor leaders have a say in the decision making of the Grand Old Party (GOP).

It is interesting to note that neither Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi ever attend the all party meetings convened by the Speaker in the presence of the PM. This style of the Gandhis, preferring to control from behind the curtain always keeps the BJP guessing as to the real intentions of the party. The GOP may be lulled into thinking that this obstructionist approach, combined with careful calibration of messaging using a friendly media will fetch them rich dividends. But 2019 is far away and there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.

Government managers say they are planning to place 16 bills including the GST and amendments to Whistleblower’s Bill. Even though the BJP has managed to get some regional parties on board , they cannot pass the GST Bill which requires a Constitutional Amendment, mandated by two third majorities of MPs present with a minimum quorum of 50 percent of the total membership.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ithout Congress, BJP government can pass bills in the Rajya Sabha. But in the case of bills like GST which need a Constitutional Amendment, Congress support is needed. So if government feels that passing the GST Bill is a pride, they have to bow to the Congress leadership. Congress currently has 60 MPs in Rajya Sabha which has a total membership of 245. And many of the senior leaders of Congress are in the Rajya Sabha and seldom miss an opportunity to attack BJP, especially Modi on each and every issue.

For the past two sessions, BJP’s strategists headed by Arun Jaitley have been engaging with Congress leadership for the passage of GST Bill and Congress showed its real colors by stalling what could be argued as “their own” bill. What price the BJP has to pay for this much hyped bill is another question. Is Congress using a carrot and stick policy by promising GST support in exchange for something else?

Ostensibly Congress has brought in its star performers such as Kapil Sibal and Chidambaram to counter the big guns of BJP in the Upper House. One will have to wait and see how the BJP will tackle this new Congress team. For sure, the Congress will use all its arsenal against the BJP on the Arunachal Pradesh verdict, violence in Kashmir, the failed NSG bid etc.

The Monsoon Session will last till August 12 and promises to be an engrossing one.

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