New Delhi: The Lokpal
bill, uncontrolled inflation, corruption... a slew of issues will
play out in the month-long winter session of parliament beginning
Tuesday and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will
be hard put to put up a strong defence of its omissions and
Political circles are keenly awaiting developments on the Lokpal
bill. Team Anna has threatened to launch another agitation if a
"strong Lokpal bill" is not passed.
Inflation is likely to lead to fireworks, with the opposition -
both the Left and the right - closing ranks. An adjournment motion
will be moved on the opening day, Communist Party of India's
Gurdas Dasgupta has said.
Lok Sabha opposition leader Sushma Swaraj has said that her
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
wants a discussion on price rise and black money.
The government will also face heat over corruption.
A leader of the Janata Dal-United, which is part of the NDA, said
on condition of anonymity that the opposition alliance has
"collected a lot of material to expose the government on the 2G
(spectrum) issue, especially the role of Home Minister P.
Chidambaram when he was finance minister", as well as black money
stashed away in foreign countries.
"UPA-II has been on the defensive on issues of corruption and
inflation for more than a year. The winter session will test
whether the alliance can recover ground and move forward," Mridula
Mukherjee, professor in New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU),
For firefighting, the Congress-led UPA is expected to field its
key troubleshooter, Finance Minister Minister Pranab Mukherjee,
who is leader of the house in the Lok Sabha.
Though the Lokpal bill is listed as the first among 31 bills for
"consideration and passage", the Congress is adopting a cautious
approach saying the bill is before the standing committee.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has said her party favoured "an
effective, strong Lokpal bill".
Indications from the standing committee are that it will finalise
the bill by Dec 7.
Abhishek Manu Singhvi, chairman of the committee, has said that
the committee had reached near consensus on 10-12 major issues but
did not comment on reports that there were differences on bringing
the prime minister under the Lokpal.
Political circles feel the government will try to avoid a
confrontation with Team Anna, which has threatened to campaign
against the Congress in the assembly polls next year if a "strong
Lokpal bill is not passed".
Two other key bills to fight corruption - the whistleblowers bill
and the judicial accountability bill - are also scheduled for
But another key bill - the land acquisition bill - will not be
taken up. The standing committee could not reach a consensus on
The companies bill, the pension regulatory and development
authority bill, and the mines and minerals development bill will
also come up for passage.
The women's reservation bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2009,
is listed for business in the Lok Sabha. But this may just be a
Some regional issues expected to find an echo in the session
include the demand for a Telangana state, the Mayawati
government's decision to divide Uttar Pradesh into four states and
the blockade-hit Manipur.
(George Joseph can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)