Government reaches out to Opposition ahead of Monsoon Session, 2021

New Delhi: With the Opposition gearing up to question the government in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning Monday on a range of issues, including the Covid-19 pandemic situation, delay in the vaccination program, and price rise, the treasury benches on Friday started an outreach exercise.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met former Defence Ministers Sharad Pawar and A K Antony to brief them on the India-China border situation. Singh has provided Pawar and Antony with details about India’s military preparedness in the region, sources said. The meeting was also attended by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat and Army Chief Gen M M Naravane.

Piyush Goyal, the newly-appointed leader of Rajya Sabha, met Pawar and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

These meetings came a day before the scheduled meeting of floor leaders of all parties in the Upper House, called by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla has called party leaders on Sunday to ensure a smooth session, while the BJP has called their partners in the NDA for a meeting on the same day for coordination.

The unusual moves from the ruling BJP assume significance as the Opposition, buoyed by the recent Assembly elections results, has already launched multiple efforts to get non-NDA parties together to raise issues like the “mishandling of the pandemic situation” and “unprecedented fuel price increase”.

Opposition parties, especially the TMC, have indicated that the Monsoon Session would be rocky for the government. Shiromani Akali Dal, a former ally of the BJP, has roped in a number of parties like NCP, DMK, TMC, BSP, and Shiv Sena to demand the repeal of the contentious farm laws. Congress has indicated that it would raise the border row with China in both Houses.

Meanwhile, the government said it is prepared to “respond to every attack” from the Opposition. “We are in a good position to reply to all the questions they raise. The Covid crisis was not limited to India, it is a global crisis. Barring the 14-16 days during which there were crises like an Oxygen shortage, the government could provide support to the affected people. But the demand was 20 times more than the capacity,” said a senior minister. He added that the vaccination program in India has been a huge success so far. During the 19-day session, the government is ready for any kind of discussion on the pandemic situation, he added.