The government on Saturday dismissed suggestions that the Monsoon session will be the last session and that the country was headed for early elections. "There are still three sessions left, including the Monsoon session, the Winter session and Budget session for the vote-on-account," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said.
Nath also said the Monsoon session which concludes on August 30 could be extended, if necessary. Talking to reporters after an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Meira Kumar, Nath said that the government has received "emphatic assurances" from all political parties about the session being business-like and smooth.
He said there was "wide consensus" on the Food Security Bill. "Obviously, political parties have some point to make but there is a very large consensus," he said, indicating that there would not be any problem in its passage. He denied suggestions that some bills are being brought in haste and that it means elections were round the corner. Nath's comments came close on the heels of SP leader Shailender Kumar expressing apprehensions that the session would not run smoothly and would be a stormy affair because of the issues the government is bringing.
"It seems it is an election session due to the kind of bills the government is bringing. It appears that the government is looking at its benefit by bringing all these measures," Kumar said, naming the Food Security Bill and the decision on separate Telangana. He also gave indications that the SP will not give support to the Food Security bill, saying the interest of farmers and the authority of state should not be compromised with.
Kumar said, "First of all, we will talk about the rights of the farmers and see that their interests are not ignored. The authority of the state is not being violated. Our leadership has maintained that the bill should not be passed without a thorough discussion."
He said the session is very short and this concern was also shared by CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta. The contention of the opposition is that the Monsoon session will have only 12 working days. The Parliamentary Affairs Minister said that if necessary the session could be extended. Kamal Nath also did not agree with the suggestions that the issue of smaller states would overtake the session. He said Telangana was not a new issue and there has been a debate for long on it.
He said there will be discussion on the situation in Uttarakhand in the wake of floods as also on the economic situation. He said government has no objection to discuss any issue on the floor of the House. Asked if the issue of suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti could be raised in Parliament, he said, "It is a state issue, I don't think it can."