The government convened an all-party meet ahead of the Monsoon Session of Parliament. (PTI photo)
New Delhi: A day before Presidential elections and the beginning of the Monsoon Session of parliament, hectic meetings were held in the ruling NDA and the opposition camps. The government, which is preparing to face a united opposition - a bloc of 18 parties - on a host of issues including the landmark Goods and Services Tax, held not only a strategy session but also a meeting with its Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also convened an all-party meeting, where he spoke out against cow vigilantism, saying the states should take action against them.
Here are the 10 latest developments:
PM Modi said there is an "attempt to give communal colour to cow vigilantism and other incidents and derive political mileage," Union Minister Anant Kumar said after the meeting. Law and order being a state subject, the centre has already sent an advisory to the states regarding action against cow vigilantes, Mr Kumar said, quoting the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister also thanked all parties for the cooperation on the flagship Goods and Services tax and said "it was an excellent example of cooperative federalism," Mr Kumar said.
The Congress, which leads the opposition charge, held a meeting of lawmakers from 16 opposition parties in the evening. At the meeting, which was an interaction with Meira Kumar and Gopal Krishna Gandhi - the opposition's Presidential and vice Presidential candidates -- Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said the election was a fight against "narrow-minded communal vision".
Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United), which controversially broke from the Opposition to back the government's candidate for President, was not part of the all-party meeting. Denying a boycott, senior party leader KC Tyagi said, "Sharad ji and other MPs are busy... so we could not attend the all-party meeting". The party did not attend the opposition meeting either - a move that was seen as a bid to keep equal distance from the government and the opposition.
The Trinamool Congress, which has been involved in a blame-game with the BJP over the communal violence earlier this month in the North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal which it rules, boycotted the all-party meeting.
The beginning of the Monsoon session coincides with the Presidential election -- a contest between ruling NDA's candidate Ram Nath Kovind and former Lok Sabha Speaker and Congress's Meira Kumar, who was jointly fielded by 17 opposition parties. The BJP lawmakers held a meeting to discuss the presidential election, which was also attended by their Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind. A meeting to decide the vice presidential candidate will be held tomorrow.
The meeting was followed by a strategy session of the NDA to counter the opposition in Parliament. The opposition parties are expected to confront the government on several issues including the impact of the flagship GST, PM Modi's shock decision to ban high-denomination notes last year, and what they called the government's "political vendetta" through criminal cases against opposition leaders like Lalu Yadav.
Later in the evening, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan convened a meeting with all political parties to seek , for the smooth functioning of the House. At least 16 new bills are listed for introduction in parliament -- including the implementation of GST in Jammu and Kashmir, and a bill to amend the Citizenship Act to allow certain illegal immigrants get Indian citizenship.
Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said passing 16 bills in one of the shortest sessions of parliament is impossible unless the government plans to pass all these bills and grants "minus any discussion".
The Congress has said it will seek answers from the government in parliament over the ongoing border stand-off with China, the worsening situation in Kashmir and mob lynching incidents in the name of cow. "All the roads for talks have been closed by the government. Even ventilator is not open. There is political suffocation in Kashmir," said senior party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.