The controversial VVIP chopper scam is set to turn the three-month-long Budget session of Parliament beginning tomorrow into a troubled affair for the government with the Opposition raring for an attack eyeing the Lok Sabha polls which are not far away.
The Left and the Right have been targeting the Congress-led coalition on a variety of issues, including the chopper deal allegedly involving Rs 362 crore kickbacks from an Italian company Finmeccanica and price rise.
Hopes of an early enactment of key legislations like strengthening of anti-rape laws, land acquisition bill and Lokpal bill have receded with some Opposition parties objecting to the proposed measures in their present form.
The two-day strike called by the central trade unions has set the tone for the session with the unions upset over the government's "inaction" on the issue of price rise and alleged violation of labour laws.
There are issues galore including safety of women, killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops on the Line of Control, increase in prices of diesel and petrol, hike in rail fare, the issue of separate Telangana and the alleged scam in the ambitious farm loan waiver scheme.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the government was ready to discuss all issues.
The session begins tomorrow with the address of President Pranab Mukherjee to the joint sitting of Parliament. The Railway Budget is scheduled to be presented on February 26, and the economic survey will be tabled the next day.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram will present the General Budget on February 28. The BJP top brass has also decided to strongly protest against Leader of the House in Lok Sabha Sushilkumar Shinde till he tenders an apology for his Hindu terror remark against the principal opposition.
However, the party will not force adjournments of the two Houses on this issue.
Congress is also going to face problem over the demand for the removal of Rajya Sabha Deputy chairman P J Kurien in the wake of fresh revelations in the Suryanelli rape case. Kurien has time and again claimed innocence and has rejected the demand for his resignation.
Government has already said it was not averse to a JPC on the chopper deal with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath saying, "We are open for a Joint Parliamentary Committee if this satisfies everybody."
Nath insisted that the government was "neither afraid nor hesitant" on discussion on any issue during the three-month long Budget Session of Parliament beginning Thursday.
At a meeting of chief whips convened by Nath yesterday, political parties had conveyed that they intend to raise issues including the chopper deal, hanging of Afzal Guru, price rise, land acquisition, food security, during the session.
Ahead of the session, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has appealed to everyone to allow Parliament to function smoothly.
"I am not presuming anything," she had said when asked whether she was apprehending disruptions during the session.
"I will appeal to parties to let the House run. I will appeal to members not to resort to lung power," she had said.
The session has a heavy legislative agenda, including getting Parliament nod to three ordinances, introduction of as many as 16 bills, consideration and passage of 35 bills.
These include the national food security bill, the criminal law amendment bill, reservation for SC/STs in promotion bill and a bill aimed at prevention and prohibition of sexual harassment of women at work place. Besides, 13 items related to financial business, including discussions on General and Railway budgets, and budget for Jharkhand which is under President's Rule.
The enactment of key legislations like strengthening of anti-rape laws, land acquisition bill and Lokpal bill is likely to be delayed.
The argument of some parties was that if measures like criminal law amendment ordinance were passed hastily without giving much thought to the implications of the provisions, it would create havoc. Similar was their reasoning with the other key legislations, including the land acquisition bill.
There were also differences on the Lokpal bill despite the measure going through a standing committee and a select committee with some political parties opposing and wanting it to go through some more scrutiny.
There were also differences over the Food Security Bill, the Land Acquisition, Relief and Rehabilitation Bill, the Women's Reservation Bill and the bill to provide reservation in promotion for SC/STs.
"Political parties are not a homogeneous lot. Concerns of one party may be a red rag for other parties," Nath had said.
This means that the session having 34 sittings spread over two parts could mainly deal with the financial business due to lack of consensus and the heat generated over a variety of issues.
Besides discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his Address, Parliament will also take up a discussion on the Statutory Resolution seeking approval of imposition of President's rule in Jharkhand.