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Oppn meetings to chalk out plan for House session today

Sep 05, 2023 04:44 AM IST

The 28-party opposition INDIA bloc will hold two key meetings on Tuesday to plan their agenda for the special session of Parliament on September 18-22.

In two strategy meetings of the Opposition on Tuesday, political parties will plan their agenda for the special session of Parliament on September 18-22 and prepare for any surprise move by the government, which has not yet revealed its plan, according to people aware of the matter.

INDIA bloc to hold two key meeting to plan their agenda for special session of Parliament. (HT Archive)
INDIA bloc to hold two key meeting to plan their agenda for special session of Parliament. (HT Archive)

The Congress’s parliamentary strategy group will meet at 5pm, followed by a meeting of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc leaders at 7.30pm, Congress leader Manickam Tagore said.

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Also read: INDIA bloc's next meeting likely in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh: Report

The agenda for the four-day special session will be declared only after the G20 summit on September 9-10, government functionaries have indicated. This has forced opposition parties to prepare for the government’s surprise moves, including a possible draft legislation on major issues such as the sub-categorisation of other backward classes (OBCs) and the Women’s Reservation Bill. The session also comes days after the government made a renewed push for simultaneous elections in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, and named a panel under former president Ram Nath Kovind to delve deeper into what is calls a “one nation, one election” plan.

While many opposition parties including the Congress, which piloted the Women’s Reservation Bill in March 2010 in the Rajya Sabha, and the Trinamool Congress party, a vocal supporter of the draft law, have little option but to support it, OBC sub-categorisation might turn out to be a more complex issue for the INDIA bloc.

A Congress strategist said they will have to study any bill on OBC reservation, while Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien said his party will take a call on it in due course.

The G Rohini Commission, established in 2017, was entrusted to identify OBCs and put them in different subcategories. The panel was also tasked to review the disparities in benefits to the different castes and communities within the OBCs. The committee’s report was submitted to President Droupadi Murmu on July 31.

HT reported on Saturday that the commission’s recommendations may be a major departure from the traditional way in which the reservation policy is handled in India.

This comes at a time when several Opposition parties have been demanding a caste census. The ruling coalition in Bihar, which comprises the Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Congress and Left parties, has gone a step further and passed a resolution in the assembly to start such a survey. The Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar has supported the resolution.

A section of the opposition leaders said the INDIA bloc might demand a caste census, or put pressure on the government to make the Socio-Economic Caste Census data public, which has been withheld by the government.

“But it would not be possible to oppose a bill on sub-categorisation of OBCs,” an Opposition leader said, asking not to be named. “We will, of course, demand that the bill be referred to standing committee for review, if it comes.”

The Congress had proposed a sub-quota for most backward castes in the 27% OBC reservation in the run-up to the 2012 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. It is yet to take a call on the overall restructuring of the OBC quota.

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The meetings on Tuesday have also been called to evolve a common strategy over issues such as the latest adverse revelations on the Adani Group and topics discussed during the past three meetings of the INDIA bloc, a Congress leader said.

“Apart from the Adani issue, we have identified unemployment, price rise, India-China border situation and federal structure are key issues for this session. Manipur, too, remains an important issue for us,” the Congress strategist said, seeking anonymity.

Trinamool Congress, the largest opposition outfit after the Congress in Parliament, was in broad agreement. “All these are important issues. The Trinamool Congress will attend the floor leaders’ meeting with an open mind to work together with other INDIA parties,” said O’Brien.

The Congress’s parliamentary strategy group led by Congress parliamentary party chief Sonia Gandhi will meet to discuss the party’s internal strategy on the possible issues. “Our strategy will be in sync with the larger opposition plans,” a second Congress leader said, wishing to remain unnamed.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

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