Suspense deepens despite the government releasing the agenda for the special session.
The agenda released by the central government has hardly ended the suspense over the special session of Parliament beginning 18 September. The question is why a special session is being convened for the legislative business which could have been carried out in the winter session itself. None of the agendas disclosed by the government are going to have any implications for the upcoming elections. Now the debate is focused on what electoral strategy Prime Minister Narendra Modi has up his sleeves.
In fact, Modi has surprised the nation by his decisions on many occasions in the past. He does what he says and commits. Demonetisation, surgical strike, Ram Mandir construction, abrogation of Article 370, etc. are some decisions of PM Modi that surprised everyone. These decisions benefited BJP politically as well.
Modi’s decision to convene the special session of Parliament was also one of such surprising moves. Everyone was taken aback by the move to form the committee on “One Nation One Election”. The “special session” decision triggered speculation about issues like “One Nation One Election”, Women’s reservation bill, etc being on the agenda. These issues could have implications for the upcoming Assembly polls in Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In fact, the BJP is not comfortable in these states.
If surveys are to be believed, the BJP is not yet in a winning position in any of these states. It was in this background that speculation was doing the rounds saying that BJP will try to improve its position pitching for Women Quota Bill or One Nation One Election legislation during the session. Congress was also nervous amid all the speculations, as its policy on both issues is not clear. If Congress supports women reservation, like it always did, the Opposition I.N.D.I.A bloc will be divided on this issue. Parties such as RJD and SP do not support women’s reservation. Similarly, if the government had finalized the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill as an agenda for the session, it would have put Congress in a tight spot.
Is the government then planning to raise an issue in parliament aimed at generating public opinion in its favour? If nothing like that is going to happen, then the question arises why the government suddenly started a debate on “One Nation One Election”.
The government will definitely take a call on this issue as it has formed a panel on it now. The terms of governments in five states going to polls in November will end in January 2024. For the postponement of these elections, an amendment in the constitution would be needed. But nothing on this line is happening for now. Experts say that if the government desires, it can advance assembly elections by a year to synchronise them with the Lok Sabha polls in December-January. No Constitutional amendment would be needed for this. It means assembly elections of states such as Rajasthan, MP, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Odisha, Jharkhand, Delhi and Maharashtra could, then, be held with the Lok Sabha polls in December and January.
The terms of assemblies of these states are ending either early 2024 or early 2025. Another option may be about postponing Lok Sabha polls till the end of 2024 to synchronise it with the assembly polls of the states where terms of government are ending in 2024, 2025 and 2026. But a constitutional amendment would be needed for this too. Now all eyes are on what strategy PM Modi unfolds during the special session of Parliament.