Even as the UPA government on Monday listed an ambitious agenda of 39 bills, including six anti-corruption measures to be passed in the last session of 15th Lok Sabha, the opposition as well allies are in no mood to allow it to walk away with the credit. After an all-party meeting, an anguished parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said he failed to get any assurance from parties on the key agenda, except for unanimity to pass the vote-on-account in lieu of the budget pending the Lok Sabha elections. The second phase of the winter session of parliament is starting from Wednesday.
Since political parties are expecting emotions to run high on the Telangana bill, they asked the government to first get the vote-on-account passed before taking up any other legislation. At least three parties went to the extent of pitching for a shorter session than the one planned from February 5 to February 21. Even the ally SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said his party would oppose Telangana tooth and nail.
“Congress cannot blame the opposition for disruptions. Congress only has created this situation. The ruling party has become so weak in the country as also inside as its own chief minister has sent the bill after rejecting it in the Andhra Pradesh assembly,” leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj told reporters. She was joined by Sitaram Yechury (Communist Party of India-Marxist) as also Sudip Bandyopadhyay (Trinamool Congress), who asked he government to concentrate on passage of the vote-on-account, instead allowing house to get disrupted on Telangana issue.
The parliamentary affairs minister hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying it wants to create hindrances in the passage of Telangana Bill. “All political parties must make their stand clear (on Telangana) and should not qualify their statements with ifs and buts,” Nath said, taking a dig at the main opposition party.
With the opposition stand and even Congress MPs from Andhra Pradesh set for a clash, the passage of anti-corruption bills, as committed by Rahul Gandhi becomes highly suspect. Yechury suggested that if the government wanted the bills to be passed, it should come up with a strategy to tackle the Telangana issue so that the House proceedings are not disrupted.
Meanwhile, coinciding the parliament session, a batch of 50 Congress MLAs from Andhra Pradesh are planning to stage a protest dharna outside the residence of Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati to press him for expediting his legal opinion on the Bill rejected by the assembly. This will be ahead of Vahanvati’s plan trip to the prime minister and then to the president to explain the legal sanctity of the assembly rejecting the Bill and whether the Union cabinet can still go ahead with approving it with some amendments and ready it for tabling in parliament.
A Group of Ministers (GoM) on Telangana is slated to meet on Tuesday to ready the bifurcation Bill with a set of amendments in the original draft Bill that was sent to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in December.