Modi's speech at BJP national executive may set tone for Parliament session

Topics Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he speaks at the Birth Centenary Celebration of Laxman Rao Inamdar, in New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)
At a rare open session of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) national executive on Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to deliver a speech that might shape the political discourse in the run-up to the winter session of Parliament, and assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

The speech, which will be open to the media and telecast live by state broadcaster Doordarshan, comes at a time when the Modi government is facing criticism for the economic slowdown. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said a stimulus package is in the works.

The BJP’s national executive is set to pass a resolution spelling out the economic road map of the government for the next one year. Besides, it is expected to laud the PM’s leadership for the roll-out of the goods and services tax (GST) regime that integrated India into a single economic unit, and the government’s commitment to welfare of the poor.

Usually, the national executive, chaired by party president, is attended by its 120-odd members and an equal number of special invitees. However, the BJP is hosting an ‘extended’ national executive this time. The audience would comprise all the party’s elected representatives in Parliament and state legislatures.

Significantly, September 25 is the birth anniversary of Jana Sangh icon Deendayal Upadhyaya, whose vision of ‘antyodaya’ has become the cornerstone of the Modi government’s ‘garib kalyan’, or welfare of the poor, policy architecture since early 2016.

There are also indications that the Modi government might bring in a Bill for reserving a third of Lok Sabha and state legislatures’ seats for women in the winter session of Parliament. However, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA’s) constituents like the Lok Janshakti Party are needed to be convinced.

The Congress on Thursday made public a letter that party President Sonia Gandhi wrote to the PM on the issue a day ago. In the letter, Sonia Gandhi urged him to take advantage of the BJP’s majority in the Lok Sabha to get the Bill passed.

The Rajya Sabha had passed the Bill on March 9, 2010. It was stalled in the Lok Sabha when several of the Congress allies opposed it, demanding that seats be reserved not just Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe women, but also those hailing from OBC (Other Backward Classes).

The BJP’s 2014 Lok Sabha manifesto had committed to ensuring the passage of the Bill to provide one third reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies. “The Congress party has and will continue to support the women’s reservation Bill,” Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao retorted that the Congress president should have first written to allies like Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party, which had opposed the passage of the Bill in 2010.

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