#AllPartyMeet: Is Modi really trying to save the #BudgetSession?
The budget session, which starts on 23 February, is not going to be smooth, Rohith Vemula's suicide and the police crackdown in the JNU seem to have made sure of it.
Indeed, the government is bracing for just such a situation. On Tuesday, Narendra Modi called an all-party meeting to discuss the "various issues related to the upcoming session". It was the first time since the NDA took power that the prime minister had himself called a meeting to pave the way for smooth functioning of the parliament. This was earlier done by the parliamentary affairs minister.
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At the meeting, Modi requested all political parties to help pass key bills, pending and some new, in the budget session.
The opposition leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma of the Congress, though wouldn't give any assurances. They mentioned the JNU crackdown and Vemula's suicide case and asked the prime minister to "break his silence" on these issues.
This is the first time Modi has called an all party meeting ahead of a session. Fearing a washout?
United in anger
More worryingly for the government, the opposition appear to have closed the ranks on the issues. Along with the Congress and the Left, the AAP, BSP and JD(U) have strongly condemned the crackdown on the JNU students and the arrest of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar. More political fronts are likely to join the chorus in the coming days.
And not just Rohith's suicide and the JNU crackdown, the opposition has other issues to beat the government over as well - allegations of corruption against Gujarat Chief Minister's Anandiben's family and the Arunachal Pradesh fiasco.
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"Opposition leaders are receiving threat calls. Politicians are manhandled. Party offices are attacked. Sedition charges are slapped on students without evidence. Farmers are committing suicide. Inflation is worsening," says an opposition leader. "All this and the government is silent."
He leader adds, "Actually, the prime minister calling the all party meeting is just a formality. He wants to show that he is trying hard to make this session functional. The government has failed on all fronts and they want to put the blame for their failures on the opposition."
#JNUcrackdown, #RohithVemula suicide, Arunachal fiasco - issues that could tank the budget session
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal says, "The problem is that these people don't know how to run the government. Clearly, they aren't concerned about the session because they are not stopping these kind of misconduct. And this meeting is their idea of collaborating with the opposition."
That five states - Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry - are going to polls in the following months dims any hope left of a compromise to let the session function smoothly.
All major parties have already hit the campaign mode in these states; even Modi has addressed a few rallies in Assam. And no party would want to be seen as having diluted its stand.
No surprise the budget session is shaping up as a likely washout.
More in Catch:
It's not about him alone: How Kanhaiya's poor parents put things in perspective
What killed Hyderabad university Dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula?
How Congress plans to wash out the Winter Session with a little help from Mamata