As predicted in this newspaper on 13 December, the ongoing winter session of Parliament is witnessing a legislative paralysis, with legislation essential for growth in the economy being stalled (Rahul against legislative truce with Modi government). If this newspaper had information from credible sources about the intention of the Congress working under the direction of Rahul Gandhi to show up the Narendra Modi government as unable to ensure the smooth formulation and implementation of policy, then surely the various intelligence agencies of the government would also have had access to such information. Yet it would appear from the (lack of) response of the NDA government to the tactics of the Congress-led opposition within the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha that despite such a presumed knowledge of the tactics of those intent on stalling Parliament, there was not the slightest effort to put in place and in operation a Plan B in the certain eventuality of a continuation of the Congress’ parliamentary tactics, since the previous two sessions of both Houses, both of which, especially the monsoon session, got characterised by what this newspaper in its 13 December report termed “legislative paralysis”. If the Manmohan Singh government earned ridicule for its “policy paralysis”, this government is on the way to earning obloquy for its legislative paralysis owing to a seeming lack of an effective strategy to match the tactics of the Congress-led opposition in Parliament. Incidentally, during previous sessions as well this newspaper had revealed details of the Congress’ strategy to ensure that the record in governance of the BJP would falter in a way fatal to a repeat of the present ruling party’s 2014 victory in the Lok Sabha polls. Surely, facts available to this newspaper and publicised subsequently about the thus far very successful strategy of Rahul Gandhi concerning the legislative business of the Narendra Modi government must have been accessed by the well-funded and expertly manned (by veterans of the Indian Police Service) intelligence and security agencies of Government of India. This makes the complete confusion and lack of an alternative strategy all the more incomprehensible.
As was suggested months ago by this newspaper, either the fact that bills such as the GST involve financial flows ought to have led to their classification as money bills, not necessitating a majority vote in the Rajya Sabha, or a joint session ought to have been called of both Houses of Parliament to discuss the financial and economic emergency facing the country as a consequence of legislative paralysis. Such a session of both Houses sitting together could have got passed through an overall majority core legislation such as the GST Bill and the Land Bill. It has been claimed that the latter was hurriedly withdrawn because of the fear that it would impact on the elections in Bihar. Whether this be true or not, the fact of its withdrawal has harmed rather than assisted the BJP. Had the bill got passed, in a few months it would have been obvious that the Land Bill did not have the toxic effects alleged by opponents of the measure but in fact boosted the Make in India campaign. Instead, by withdrawing the Land Bill, the charge that it was anti-farmer has been solidified. The Congress in particular has criss-crossed the country claiming that an “anti-farmer” measure has been rolled back because of pressure from Rahul Gandhi’s followers. It is expected of PM Modi that he is a leader who will not buckle under pressure and instead would persist with his chosen course of action. The withdrawal of the Land Bill and the lack of success over three sessions of Parliament in getting the GST Bill passed is doing damage to this image of the PM, who won the election on the basis of his efficacy in ensuring an administration that is transparent, honest and effective. The interests of India demand precisely such a government, and it is to be hoped that the Modi government has a strategy designed to ensure that key legislation, most crucially the GST, gets passed before the winter session of Parliament concludes this month. Only such a legislative success would convince not only the country but investors internationally that a government led by Narendra Modi has the will and the capacity to overcome predicted and predictable obstacles in its path and nevertheless succeed in ensuring that a legislative and policy framework get put in place designed to ensure double digit growth.