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Expect Cong to try stalling Modi's GST push this Monsoon session

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 10 July 2016, 19:20 IST

Armed with allegations of scams and other controversies, the Congress is in a combative mood to take on the Narendra Modi government in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament, which begins on 18.

The party is set to up the ante by raising issues ranging from the Naga Accord and defence acquisition to the alleged telecom scam and the Uniform Civil Code.

Its strategy, yet again, is to corner the government in the Parliament, particularly in the Rajya Sabha, and derail the passage of the GST Bill which is the ruling party's top priority.

Having garnered the support of the Trinamool Congress, the Janata Dal United, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, among other regional outfits, the NDA government aims to isolate the Congress on the issue and get this crucial legislation passed.

However, the grand old party has other plans, and is looking forward to raising these issues, with the hope of getting support from its allies.

If the Congress is successful, GST could face yet another delay, which would be a moral victory for the Congress.

The Naga Accord

On Saturday, 9 July, the Congress urged the government to place the Framework Agreement of the Naga Accord before the Parliament, after public statements by NSCN(IM) general secretary T Muviah that a "separate flag and passport for Nagas was not just a demand but a right, as the Nagas were never under Indian rule".

The party sought answers on whether the agreement compromises the territorial integrity of India, or whether it promises a separate flag, passport and shared sovereignty for Nagas, as stated by Muivah.

"Will the Prime Minister place the Agreement before the Parliament and people of India? Whether the Modi government has or will take into confidence the elected governments of Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur before entering into an agreement for 'alteration of territories' of these states? Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi must answer," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Defence and telecom 'scams'

Earlier, on Friday, the party accused the government of creating a single vendor system in the purchase of army carbines, overruling the objections of former MoS Defence, Rao Inderjit Singh, for allowing only Israeli firm IWI to supply carbines. Singh was pushing for Italian firm Beretta to be included.

Moreover, the so-called "defence scam" could be the Congress's answer to the AgustaWestland controversy that rocked the Parliament in the previous session.

Even the "telecom scam", wherein the Congress accused the BJP government of sweeping a Rs 45,000 crore scam under the carpet, is likely to feature in yet another stormy Parliament session. The Congress has claimed that the losses to the exchequer, verified by the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG), suggest that the Modi government is "surreptitiously protecting the interests of six leading telecom companies" by helping them avoid the payment of charges owed to the government.

The Congress further questioned why a CAG audit had not been initiated for the years 2010-11 to 2015-16, and whether these companies under-reported their income.

Questioning the BJP government, Surjewala said: "Why is ex-telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad insisting there is no under-reporting of income by six telecom companies for 2010-11 to 2015-16? How can the minister be enlightened without even an audit conducted by CAG?"

Uniform Civil Code

The Uniform Civil Code issue, too, is most likely to feature in Parliament, and the principal Opposition party could raise questions on the government's sudden decision to rake it up now.

Sources claim that senior party leadership is trying to get other "like-minded" parties on board, and that talks are on with the CPI(M) and the JD(U), among others.

Congress leadership believes that at a time when the Modi government is talking about development, raising this issue is purely political. However, on this particular issue, the party will move with caution, considering its sensitivity.

Edited by Shreyas Sharma

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First published: 10 July 2016, 19:20 IST