Poll panel row, recession blues to occupy last session of Lok Sabha

February 10th, 2009 - 4:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) The parliament session, beginning Thursday and the last before the general elections expected April-May, is likely to be tumultous with the opposition attacking the government on the controversy over the Election Commission, the job losses due to the economic meltdown and its tackling of the post-26/11 terror attacks. The interim railway budget and vote on account on the general budget will also be passed.

Some fireworks are also likely with the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance attacking the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for its decision to revive the Ram temple issue in the run up to the polls.

The session will be short, just 10 working days. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is recovering from a heart surgery and has been advised rest for a few weeks, may not attend the session. However, he will be there for the photo session with members of the current parliament.

“The session will start Feb 12 with the presidential address to the joint session of both the houses. There will be 10 working days and the opposition and the ruling party members will get enough time to make constructive criticism and assessment on the performance of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government as it is the last session of the current Lok Sabha,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said.

“The session will conclude Feb 26,” Ravi told IANS. He also sought the opposition’s co-operation for the smooth conduct of proceedings.

Asked whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will attend the session, Ravi said: “I don’t know. There is no official information about it.”

However, sources said the prime minister is unlikely to attend the session.

Ravi said the date for the photo session has not been decided.

“The government will have to pass the interim railway budget and interim general budget (vote on account) before ending the session,” the minister said.

According to the schedule, the interim railway budget will be presented Feb 13 and the vote on account on Feb 16.

The minister did not mention about the important bills to be passed during the session.

The BJP said it will raise the rift within the Election Commission.

“We will definitely raise the issue in the house,” BJP MP Karbela Swain, who is the party deputy chief whip in the Lok Sabha, told IANS.

The controversy erupted after Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami wrote to President Pratibha Patil last month recommending the removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla on the grounds of his being “partisan”. The UPA government came to Chawla’s defence with Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj hitting out at Gopalaswami for suggesting the sacking of Chawla.

The BJP, which is supporting the CEC’s demand for removal of Chawla, has accused the UPA government of violating the constitution and dictating terms to the Election Commission.

Swain said the party would also raise the issues of terrorism and the government’s “diplomatic failure” in forming international opinion in favour of India on the 26/11 Mumbai attacks that New Delhi has blamed on elements in Pakistan.

The Left parliamentarians said they would stage a protest against the BJP’s decision to revive the “communal agenda” of building a Ram temple on the site of the razed Babri masjid at Ayodhya ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

“The BJP has already declared their plan to construct a Ram temple on the disputed land in Ayodhya. Their intention is to play divisive politics in the name of religion. It will hurt our secular fabric,” said C.K. Chandrappan, deputy leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in the Lok Sabha. “We will definitely raise the issue to convey our concern.”

The Communist Party of India-Marxist plans to pin the government on the issue of job cuts and the impact of the economic recession.

“We will raise the issue of job cuts in the industrial and service sector in the wake of the economic recession. The agriculture and construction sectors have collapsed. The packages announced by the government to face the threat are inadequate,” said CPI-M MP N.N. Krishnadas, who was also the former deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha.

He said the Left parties would also protest against the “pro-Israel” foreign policy of the government despite Israel’s “brutal” assault on Palestinian territory.

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