New Delhi: The budget session of parliament starting today is expected to be stormy with the Congress and some other opposition raring to target the government on a range of issues including the JNU row, the Jat agitation and the unrest in Hyderabad varsity following the suicide of a Dalit student.
The government has prioritised 32 items for the session, which includes 11 bills pending in Rajya Sabha and one in the Lok Sabha.
While an all-party meeting to discuss the agenda for the session was called by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday morning, another was called by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in the evening.
Naidu said the was the government was concerned about recent incidents in different universities, and will enable discussion all burning issues.
“Several parties want discussion on issues such as reservations, JNU and Hyderabad University. We are prepared for it,” he said.
Urging the opposition parties to cooperate in running parliament smoothly, Naidu said everyone would have an opportunity to raise issues but discussions should take place according to rules.
There should be debate, but without disruption, said the minister.
Naidu said Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill and real estate bill were key reform legislation that need to be passed in the budget session.
He said the government has been trying consistently to make parliament function smoothly, as reflected in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting last week with leaders of political parties.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said that Congress would extend its support to the bills based on their merit.
Noting his party would raise issues like the terrorist attack on Pathankot airbase on January 2, JNU, and Hyderabad University, he said generations of Congressmen have been making sacrifices for the country and the party does not need lessons from the Bharatiya Janata Party in patriotism.
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the government has not accepted the party’s demands on the GST bill.
He said that the bills on which there was a broad consensus could be taken up for consideration in the first phase of session from February 23 to March 16 and other bills during the second phase between April 25 and May 13.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury meanwhile accused the government of “continuously spoiling the atmosphere in the country”.
The JNU has been on the boil after a police crackdown on students accused of shouting anti-India slogans.
There has also been unrest and violence arising out of demonstrations in Haryana by members of the Jat community to demand reservations in education and jobs.
Earlier, Hyderabad Central University had erupted into protests against alleged harassment of Dalit students following the suicide on January 17 of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday signalled the party’s intent to aggressively take on the BJP government, accusing it of unleashing its “divisive agenda by generating a wholly unwarranted debate on patriotism and nationalism.”
She said it was government’s responsibility to ensure that parliament functions.
Gandhi’s attack came at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body.
The party issued a statement after the meeting, saying that educational institutions “have not only been a target but high priority in the RSS’s nefarious agenda to impose their ideology in the universities and colleges”.
It said the party will raise various issues in parliament in cooperation with other like-minded parties.
Among the bills listed for introduction, considering and passing during the session is the Finance Bill.
The government is also keen on passage of Lokpal bill which is pending in the Lok Sabha.