The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Boycott spectre on session

Ranchi, Sept. 3: Opposition parties will hold a meeting tomorrow to decide if they should boycott the entire monsoon session of the Assembly beginning September 5.

The boycott is being considered on the grounds that the Arjun Munda government, “scared of a public debate on pressing issues facing the state”, has called an “extremely short” meeting of the House.

Effectively, the House will convene only on four days from September 8 to 11, and the expected amendments to the Panchayat Raj Act are unlikely to be brought during the session because the recent all-party meet on the subject was a “failure”.

Sources today said the government is not expected to hold panchayat polls before the Lok Sabha elections next year, and “that too if Assembly polls in Jharkhand are not clubbed with the parliamentary exercise”.

“The second possibility is not being ruled out by leaders of the ruling combine at the state and national levels because holding simultaneous polls would provide the BJP and its allies with the best-case scenario for going before the public,” the sources added.

Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari said the sole official business the government has communicated to the Assembly secretariat so far is passage of the first supplementary to the budget.

Apart from routine business, a special debate on the drought may also be held during the session, if the Opposition cooperates, he added.

But the leader of Opposition, Stephen Marandi, said the idea of the entire session being boycotted was “very much open” and a decision on this issue is likely tomorrow. “The session is a mere formality and a statutory necessity that the government wants to somehow complete. The government is not interested in issues of public importance and so the exercise becomes redundant. Four days are not enough to discuss these issues,” he added.

But BJP chief whip C.P. Singh said, given the differences in the Opposition ranks, there was no need for the government to panic. “An issue-less Opposition cannot but talk of boycotting the session. But the government is determined to highlight its achievements which have now become visible. As high as 90 per cent of the assurances given by the government are met and we are open to a debate on this,” he added.

Senior Congress legislator Thedore Kiro said the delay in panchayat elections was causing an annual financial loss of Rs 800 crore to the state. “If the Opposition decides to attend the session, the panchayat poll issue would be taken up in a major way. Issues of filling up government vacancies, extremism, drought and reservations will also come up,” he added.

Rashtriya Janata Dal member Saba Ahmad said the practice of the government calling Assembly sessions only to fulfil constitutional requirements was “a retrograde step and a bad practice”.

Email This Page