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In the coming monsoon session of Parliament, the Opposition is set to question the Narendra Modi government on the “hastily implemented” goods and services tax (GST) regime, its impact on traders and particularly the toll the roll-out has taken on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The session starts on July 17. Opposition parties, all 18 of them, will finalise their strategy for the session at a meeting on Tuesday afternoon. The Janata Dal (United), which had kept away from earlier Opposition meetings, is set to attend the talks. The vice-presidential candidate of the Opposition would be decided at the meeting. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar has invited leaders of all parties to attend the customary pre-session all-party meeting and lunch on Sunday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also attend.
The Trinamool Congress has decided to boycott that meeting. In the evening, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will be hosting a customary dinner-meeting. For that, the Trinamool Congress has decided to send its representative, Lok Sabha member Kalyan Banerjee, said Trinamool’s leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien.The Trinamool is boycotting the afternoon meeting to protest the “communal statements and social media posts” by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and spokespersons in the wake of communal violence in Basirhat. The Trinamool Congress and the Congress had boycotted the midnight function in Parliament on June 30 to mark the roll-out of the GST. During the session, the Opposition would also raise the “persistent impact” of demonetisation on all sectors, particularly the farm sector, which has contributed to farm distress and led to farmer suicides. Since May end, there have been widespread farmer protests in several parts of the country, particularly in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Traders and SME owners and employees, especially in the textile sector, have also held protests after the GST roll-out, including in Gujarat. The Opposition would also take up the issue of “misuse of central agencies against Opposition parties”, the “destruction of federal structure” and the role of governors in the light of Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Kiran Bedi’s recent decisions and “instances of the ruling party members inciting communal hatred.”