Opposition meet on Monday to discuss Parliament monsoon session strategy

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New Delhi : Amid indications that they will join hands in an election to elect the new Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman, opposition parties will meet here on Monday evening to discuss their strategy for the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning Wednesday.

The meeting, convened by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and expected to be attended by leaders from major opposition parties, will discuss the strategy for the monsoon session besides the issue of election of Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman following retirement of P. J. Kurien on July 1.

There have been indications that the government may not hold the election in the monsoon session while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is yet to make its stance clear.

The Constitution does not specify a time frame for the election and there have been precedents of a new Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman being chosen a few months after the incumbent retired.

The Opposition appears to have an edge in an election but much would depend on the stance of parties such as the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, AIADMK, the Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress.

There have been indications that Congress could back an opposition candidate for the post. While no party has said that it wants to put up a candidate, there is speculation that a joint nominee could belong to the Trinamool Congress or the Nationalist Congress Party.

The chances of a consensus on the name of an opposition candidate are also seen as remote as the post has gone to the members of the ruling party in the recent past and there has been some speculation that in case of a contest, the BJP-led NDA could field Shiromani Akali Dal member Naresh Gujral as its candidate.

Meanwhile, the Opposition is expected to take on the government on a range of issues during the session including mob lynchings, bank frauds, situation of farmers and atrocities against women.

Before the meeting of opposition parties in the evening, Congress leaders will meet for a "strategy session" at the residence of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

The meeting would be attended by party President Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders including Azad, Mallikurjan Kharge, Anand Sharma and A. K. Antony.

The monsoon session will have 18 sittings and will conclude on August 10.