Daggers are drawn as Budget Session of Parliament begins today. A weakened government will have to counter an Opposition on a high after the Assembly poll results.
The BJP-led Opposition is all set to corner the government on a number of issues, from price-rise and corruption, to threatening the federal structure of the nation through the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) that has united a range of political parties.
"The session obviously begins, being the first session of the year, with the address of the honourable President. And needless to say, there'll be a debate where the entire performance of this government and the state of the nation will be discussed. In the numbers game, this government is increasingly becoming fragile. It's lost the faith of the nation, lost the faith of the Opposition, and is losing the face of some of its allies also. And this fragility in numbers, I think, becomes greater when issues of federalism are involved," BJP leader Arun Jaitley told Media yesterday.
The government, meanwhile, hopes the Opposition will be on the same page when it comes to conducting the Budget Session.
"Our allies are together and fully supporting our government. On certain issues, we will talk to them and see what can be done. I don't think there'll be difficulty to run the House. The Budget Session is important and that is how we pass all the financial bills. Hope Opposition parties understand how important the session is and that they have to support the government," said V Narayansamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.
But the Opposition says it wants to start the session from where it ended. "This government is refusing to learn from its mistakes. This session will lay down the agenda for either a consensus or a polarisation about the important events - that's the election of the honourable President and the Vice President. Obviously whether it is state taxation, or its NCTC, or misuse of CBI, there is a political agenda to it. The last session ended on a terrible note. When the government, in order to avoid a vote in the Rajya Sabha on the amendments to the Lokpal Bill, disturbed the session and had it adjourned. Logically, since they wanted time to consider those amendments I am sure they have had more than sufficient time. Logically, therefore, the session must take off from where it ended last time," said Mr Jaitley.
The NDA leaders, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, met at LK Advani's on Sunday and drew up its plan to target the government.
"We have two important issues. One is Congress' attitude of usurping states' powers. The second is in case of issues like NCTC, Railway Protection Force Act (RPF), Lokayukta Bill and practically every bill of the HRD ministry," said BJP leader Prakash Javedekar.
"The NCTC issue will be crucial. It is against the federal structure of the nation," said Sitaram Yechury, CPM Leader.
One of the main opponents against the anti-terror body has been the Trinamool Congress which met on Saturday to discuss their strategy ahead of Budget Session. While Mamata Banerjee has assured the government that she will not rock the boat, Opposition leaders hinted they would reach out to her and other UPA allies on the issue of federalism. Congress leaders, however, maintained all is well and they've reached out to all their allies.
"I had a conversation with Mamata Banerjee for almost 40 minutes. We have nothing against Mamata Banerjee, she is a very strong ally of the UPA and yesterday (on Saturday) too she said that I am strongly with the UPA government," said Shakeel Ahmed, Congress Leader.
The UPA government is not going to have an easy time. With a weakened position after the recently concluded assembly elections, they also have to counter attacks of Foreign Direct Investment in retail and price rise.
"We would push against it. We have been preventing the government from implementing it from 2004. Many of these financial liberalizations that the Left did not permit is what has protected India from the global economic crisis," said CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.
"The election mandate should tell the Congress that people are not in favour of its anti-people policies and they should not push for such agenda," said CPM leader Brinda Karat.
It's not just a belligerent Opposition the Congress has to battle, the buzz around the formation of a third front is also gaining momentum.
The winter session of Parliament was one of the least productive ever, but the government and the Opposition both blamed each other for the disruptions. The critical question now is: Will any business be done in this session?