New Delhi - The opposition is expected to corner the government on a range of issues, including the riots in Assam, power outages and low-intensity blasts in Pune during the monsoon session of parliament beginning Wednesday as the ruling UPA will seek to push pending anti-corruption bills and other legislative agenda.
The session will start a day after the expected victory of United Progressive Alliance candidate and incumbent Hamid Ansari in the vice-presidential elections. With the services of once key trouble shooter Pranab Mukherjee no longer available to the government due to his elevation as the country's president, the session will be a test for parliamentary skills of the new Leader
of House in the Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde.
The issues expected to be raised by the opposition parties include the riots in Assam that have claimed over 50 lives, massive power outages across the country, the fire in the Tamil Nadu Express, deaths of Amarnath pilgrims, female feticide, train accidents, violence at Maruti-Suzuki factory in Manesar and the Lokpal bill.
Sunday's attack on a gurdwara in a Milwaukee suburb in the US, that left six people dead, is also expected to be raised by the opposition.
Sources said the government has listed 31 bills for passage during the month-long session. They include the women's reservation bill, the educational tribunal bill, the whistleblowers
protection bill and the prevention of bribery of foreign public officials bill.
The contentious bills on financial sector reforms, including the insurance and pension bills do not figure in the agenda, the sources said.
The BJP has signaled its intention to forcefully raise the issues of violence in Assam, power outages and provision of bare minimum facilities for the Amarnath pilgrims.
With assembly elections due in party-ruled Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh by the end of year, the BJP is expected to make concerted efforts to highlight the failures of the government.
"The government gave us the largest powerless hours in the country. It is now symbolic of dark ages in every sense of the word," party spokesperson Tarun Vijay told IANS. "
On successive days last week, some 300 milion people went without power after the northern grid failed and then 600 million went poweless after the northern, eastern and northeastern
"We will raise in both houses the issue of massacre and devastation of Bodo Hindus by Bangladeshi infiltrators," Vijay added.
He said government's attitude on Lokpal bill as "deceptive" and accused it of not properly following up 2G spectrum scam and other corruption cases.
Referring to P. Chidambaram, he said "a key person" in the events relating to 2G spectrum controversy had been given the finance portfolio.
Vijay said there was broad opposition unity on issues such as price rise and power outages.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia said his party intended to raise a number of issues and will decide its strategy at a meeting Tuesday.
"The issues include drought, price rise, power failure for two days across several states and violence in Kokrajhar," Acharia said.
Samajwadi Party MP Naresh Agrawal said his party will raise the issues of Assam violence, rising prices and drought.
"Our support to the government is issue-based. We will raise issues concerning the common man," Agrawal told IANS.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affaris Rajiv Shukla said that the government was ready to discuss all issues.
"Whatever issues the opposition has suggested, we are prepared to discuss," Shukla told IANS.
Answering queries, Shukla said he did not foresee the session to be "tough" for the government.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had said earlier that the government was keen to pass the Lokpal bill but it can be taken up in the monsoon session only if the Rajya
Sabha's select committee gives its report by the middle of the session. The Lokpal bill is being looked into by the select committee of the upper house.