Opposition to demand govt to hold RS deputy chairman election soon

The opposition parties on Monday decided to demand the government should start the process to elect the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Opposition leaders met here in the evening to decide their floor coordination strategy, particularly in the Rajya Sabha, for the Monsoon session of Parliament, which begins on Wednesday.

At the all-party meeting convened by Parliamentary Affairs Ministry on Tuesday and later at the meeting called by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Opposition leaders will flag the issue of holding of the election to the post of the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat is yet to notify the election process, and at Monday’s opposition meetings fears were expressed that the it might be planning to put it in abeyance indefinitely.

The opposition leaders also said they will demand answers from the Narendra Modi government on issues facing the people of the country at a time when the prime minister was trying to divert attention by building a "Hindu versus Muslim polarisation" narrative.

“We will raise issues of public concern – of flight of capital from India, agrarian distress, of deposits of Indians in Swiss banks having increased, on lack of jobs and reservations to Dalits being taken away,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) Mohammad Salim.

The Opposition also decided to field a common candidate for the post of the deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, CPI leader D Raja said. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar suggested that three parties among the opposition with most Rajya Sabha members - Congress, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party - should sit together to decide their candidate for the post of deputy chairman, which would be acceptable to all others.

With the portents being of a washout, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the Opposition wanted Parliament to function, but it feared the government would repeat the tactics of the Budget session and make smaller parties to cause disruptions.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) said it was planning to move a no-confidence motion against the Modi government. It has reached out to several parties, barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress, to support the no-confidence motion that it plans to introduce in the Lok Sabha during the session. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu also wrote to leaders of various parties detailing his state's demand for a special category status.

The TDP, earlier an ally of the BJP, had walked out of the National Democratic Alliance in March and had moved a no-confidence motion against the Narendra Modi government during the Budget session. Some other parties had also moved no-confidence motions then, but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had pointed to continuing disruptions for her inability to take it up for discussion. The opposition had accused the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and AIADMK of disrupting the House at the behest of the government.

The government has listed 18 new Bill that it might introduce, including a Bill to amend the RTI Act, four Bills to amend the GST related Acts and the insolvency and bankruptcy code amendment bill.

Earlier in the day, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Vijay Goel met leaders of several opposition parties. Earlier this month, Goel had met former prime minister Manmohan Singh to seek the Congress party’s cooperation for a successful parliamentary session.

But such pre-session meetings have proved to be perfunctory and primarily for point scoring if the session turns out a washout. Such meetings have given the government ammunition to respond to accusations that it had failed in its duty to reach out to the Opposition.

The political temperature continued to increase with the PM attacking the Trinamool Congress government in Midnapore at a public rally.

After the PM’s remark on Sunday in Azamgarh that the Congress was a party that exclusively catered to the interests of Muslims, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the BJP was indulging in divisive politics to divert attention from Modi government’s several failures.

The meeting of opposition leaders in New Delhi was attended by the leaders of the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress, SP, BSP, Rashtriya Janata Dal, DMK, CPI(M), CPI, JD(S), RSP, Indian Union Muslim League,  and Kerala Congress-M.


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