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Lok Sabha's winter session has many stormy issues

By A correspondent
November 18, 2009 16:31 IST
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The over-a-month long winter session of the Parliament, which is kicks off on Thursday, is expected to witness a storm on a daily basis, as the opposition is armed with not less than a dozen issues to put the government on the mat almost every day.

The government has, on the other hand, lined up seven key Bills to carry out comprehensive financial sector reforms -- giving top priority to pension, banking regulations and insurance Bills.

Also on its charter for the upcoming session is a Bill to introduce the goods and services taxes from April 1 and another direct taxes code Bill to replace the Income Tax Act from April 1, 2011.

The time taken to push the financial agenda depends on the extent to which the Centre accommodates the opposition in discussing and disposing the issues, so as to minimise the disruptions and pandemonium.

The government also has nearly 40 pending Bills, including some key ones that may have to be put off as they still await the nod of parliamentary standing committees.

The opposition has pointed out certain issues that need urgent discussions at a pre-session meeting addressed by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on last Thursday – this includes volatile price rise, hoarding and sugar import-export scam, Maoist terror, sugarcane growers' plight, farmers' suicides, and rising tension in Sino-Indian relations.

The only solace that the speaker had at the meeting was an assurance by all parties to extend support to her in smooth running of the House.

As the Jharkhand assembly elections will begin next week, the main opposition Bhartiya Janata Party has planned a strategy to use the session for its election campaign by raising the Rs 2,000-crore scam involving former Chief Minister Madhu Koda to corner the ruling Congress.

Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley has already set the ball rolling, accusing the Congress of deliberately asking the Central Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to go slow in the probe against Koda, as names of its leaders have been mentioned in Koda's diary as being "beneficiaries" of his scams.

The opposition parties, both the Left and the Right, are united to raise the telecom scam involving Communication Minister A Raja, involving allotment of the 2G mobile phone licences that is now under the CBI probe ordered by the prime minister after months of reluctance as it involves relations with the Dravida Munetra Kazhagam, a major partner in the government.

The Samajwadi Party intends to raise the issue of Hindi versus the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to make the opposition parties rally around, barring the BJP, to question the government on doing little to assert that Mumbai belongs to all.
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A correspondent in New Delhi