Monsoon session begins today; Kashmir issue, GST on agenda

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New Delhi: It appears that the monsoon session of Parliament will start on an amicable note on Monday, as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has assured all political parties that it was ready to discuss all issues on the floor of the house, including the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism.

The opposition parties have agreed to return the favour by allowing important bills, including the Constitutional amendment bill to roll out goods and services tax (GST). The government is keen to push its reform agenda forward and pass the bill at the earliest. During an all-party meeting on Sunday, the government and members of the opposition parties agreed to take up the bill for consideration and discuss the contentious issues which have delayed its passage.

The government and Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Sunday called two separate all-party meetings both of which were attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The meeting called by the government was attended by 45 leaders from 30 different political parties, including home minister Rajnath Singh and finance minister Arun Jaitley.

The monsoon session will continue till 12 August. The session will have a total of 20 sittings over a duration of 26 days and the main focus of the ruling alliance will be to push its economic reforms agenda.

The bills that are listed to be taken up for discussion and passage in the Lok Sabha are the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, which will replace an ordinance, and the Dentists (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, which will also replace an ordinance.

Apart from this, the Indian Trust (Amendment) Bill, the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 are also listed to be taken up for discussion on the first day of Parliament.

Among the bills that will be taken up in Rajya Sabha during this session are Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016, the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016, GST bill and the Enemy Property (Amendment & Validation) Bill, 2016.

The Congress party said it does not want to block the passage of key bills but would seek time to discuss issues like developments in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union government’s ”attempts to topple” duly elected governments and India’s failure to secure membership to the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group or NSG.

“We are not here to disrupt the session. We want legislative business to take place depending on the merit of the Bill. As far as GST is concerned, talks are still happening and we are waiting for what comes out of it,” a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.