The Narendra Modi government took everyone by surprise as it announced a five-day session starting September 18 onwards.
It set off intense speculation if the government was bringing big ticket legislations like the 'One nation, one poll' for holding simultaneous elections, or uniform civil code or even the women's reservation bill. The government and party leaders were tight-lipped about the agenda while sources said that all these issues have resonance in party ideology.
The last time Modi government called a special session was to celebrate the introduction of the GST law, one nation, one tax. The government is holding the session a week after it finishes the mega G20 summit where most the of world leaders from the member countries are participating. Coupled with the success of Chandrayaan-3, it will be an apt occasion to celebrate India's feat.
The session starts a day after Modi celebrates his 73rd birthday, the occasion which the party will celebrate as ‘Seva fortnight’, where the party will hold service camps across the country.
The timing of the session is such that it is being held weeks before the announcement of polls for five states. Last time, in 2018, polls for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were announced on October 6. When the agenda for a special session is announced, it may have some impact on the polls.
For holding simultaneous polls, constitutional amendments will need to be made for which approval of 50 per cent of the state assemblies is needed. Modi has made one nation, one poll as his idea and has pushed for it on several occasions. Elections of several assemblies along with Lok Sabha polls can be held if some states like Haryana, Maharashtra, and Odisha can dissolve their assembly.
As Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said the session called in ‘Amrit Kaal’ will have good discussions, it made clear that the government had something far-reaching on its mind, sources said.
Also part of the speculation is the uniform civil code; the law commission report is yet to be out. A draft legislation will be brought after that. BJP is weighing the pros and cons of such a legislation- if it would help in elections or spark off anti-CAA like protests.
In the case of the women's reservation bill, the BJP has been supportive but was yet to broach the subject. Women have emerged as a key constituency in polls and have been decisive in influencing the outcome of the polls. The Union cabinet reduced the price of LPG cylinder by giving additional subsidy.
The announcement of the special session came when the Opposition parties are meeting in Mumbai. They may need to reorient their strategy to deal with any surprise coming their way.