13 parties meet to frame strategy

Opposition leaders of 13 political parties met on Monday to decide on floor coordination and a common strategy for the monsoon session of Parliament.

The main focus of the meeting was to ensure that the monsoon session did not witness repeated disruptions like the previous session, in which regional players like the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSR Congress had taken the lead in moving a no-confidence motion (NCM) against the Modi government on the issue of special status for Andhra Pradesh.

The TDP has once again moved an NCM against the government and is seeking support from all parties.

Sources said that although no one from the TDP was present at the meeting, the issue was discussed and a suggestion was made that if other parties also moved a no-trust motion, it should not be confined to one issue alone.

Opposition parties, however, will decide on their next step after assessing the mood of the government at the all-party meeting convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Tuesday. “Last time, the government and some of its allies did not allow the Parliament to function. But after the session, the Opposition was blamed. This time, we want to tell the nation that we will raise your issues. We will raise the issue of unemployment, of farmers, Dalits and minorities. We will raise the issue of attempts to do away with reservation in institutions of higher education, among other issues,” Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.

Reacting to reports that the government could delay the election of the new Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Opposition leaders decided to ask the government to start the process.

“There were some reports that the Constitution does not have a post of Deputy Chairman. But it was clarified that Article 89A deals with the Deputy Chairman’s office,” said one of the leaders present.

Big three

Sources say Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar suggested that three big parties — the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Samajwadi Party (SP) — should first meet to try for a consensus candidate.

Apart from the issues spelt out by Mr. Azad,
The Hindu
has access the dozen items the Opposition intends to debate. They include: a 50% jump in deposits of Indians in Swiss banks; deposits of over Rs. 750 core in five days to the Ahmedabad Cooperative Bank where BJP chief Amit Shah is a director (listed as an instance of corruption); the falling value of the rupee to the U.S. dollar; misrule in J&K; safety of women with specific references to the Kathua and Unnao rape cases.”

Sources say Communist Party of India (CPI-M) MP Mohammed Salim suggested a rebuttal to the letter sent by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, in which she had asked Opposition MPs to cooperate, and reminded them that they are being watched by their voters.

With consistent talk on early elections, Opposition leaders discussed the role of EVMs. Sources say the Kairana and Gondia bypolls, where many EVMs malfunctioned, were cited.

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