The jury for picking this year's Best Parliamentarian Award, which comes with a citation and a cheque for Rs 5 lakh, is divided equally between those who want to give it to Sonia Gandhi and those who insist on honouring her son Rahul. One does not envy the jurors. It is tough to choose one Gandhi over the other. Both distinguished themselves as effective parliamentarians, especially this past monsoon session, when they showcased their talents for the cut and thrust of parliamentary debating. Now, before you say that the two are essentially script-readers, it is no small achievement that the mother-and-son duo has evolved a new methodology for successful parliamentarians. If Sonia Gandhi gesticulated wildly to her troops in the Lok Sabha to lay siege to the well of the House, and at least on one occasion herself led them into the self-same well, her son can justifiably take credit for the novel idea of black armbands and big banners carrying rude slogans being displayed by his screaming and shouting underlings, er...sorry, hon'ble MPs.
Levity aside, the Modi government will have a huge problem on its hands if the Gandhis persist with their disruptive agenda when Parliament meets next, as they are most likely to. Several reports have quoted senior party MPs to that effect, arguing that since none of their demands had been met, they would repeat their great feats in the last session in the coming one as well. Of course, sacking Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan is not, even as an option, being considered by anyone in the ruling party. Therefore, the government should be prepared for the chaotic encore by Gandhi and his lemming-like MPs when Parliament assembles for the winter session.
Moaning and groaning that Rahul is behaving like a spoilt child, who when denied candy sprawls on the street, will not solve the problem. No. If the de facto boss of the Congress — in practice it matters little whether he is the party president or vice-president — is hell-bent on thwarting the popular mandate, the onus clearly lies with the duly elected government to neutralise his immature challenge. Parliament cannot be allowed to be hijacked indefinitely by the Gandhis. It is important for the survival of our democratic system that it defeats the silly antics of Sanjay Gandhi-Mark II.
If this is the post-Bangkok, post-self-introspection Rahul, we can hear all Indians saying in unison that the pre-holiday Rahul, who rarely showed up in Parliament and, if he did, occupied a back bench, and once in a blue moon intervened, reading his prepared Kalavati speeches, was any day preferable. Really, it defies common sense as to why Rahul is bent upon frittering away whatever little goodwill the Congress might still enjoy. Wilful and prolonged disruption of Parliament, especially when there is no stick-able charge of money-making against Sushma Swaraj, can only recoil on the disrupters. Sanjay Gandhi, in his time, was no respecter of established institutions. His nephew, with his own gang of shouters and trouble-makers, has taken to undermining the sanctum sanctorum of our democratic system.
It is remarkable that the Congress regurgitated the demand for the removal of the three BJP leaders a day after the government showed its readiness to accommodate it on the contents of the GST Bill just so it can be passed in the monsoon session and, thus can become operative from the next financial year. Mortified by the thought that a progressive tax measure, which can add up to 2% to the GDP, can thus be passed, instead of saying that it would not help it pass it, it promptly revived the demand for the resignations of the ministers. Clearly, when the agenda is to disrupt government functioning, puerile excuses can always be conjured up. Only after the government called the bluff of the Congress on the GST Bill was the monsoon session finally prorogued.
Now, it is for the government to convene an all-party meeting and seek suggestions as to how to counter Rahul's single-minded assault on Parliament. If the Gandhis choose to boycott such a meeting or replay the same-old broken record about the resignations of Swaraj, Raje and Chouhan, the government should have no compunction in isolating them. Those who do not want to incur the wrath of the people would cooperate in marginalising the disrupters. If they find it hard to reconcile to the loss of power, they should seek therapy. Their visceral refusal to respect the popular mandate cannot be allowed to disrupt the conduct of legislative business. In such a situation, presiding officers too would be justified in suspending the wilful disrupters.
If there has to be frontal confrontation between the winners and losers of 2014, it is better it takes place sooner than later. With 15 months of its five-year term already spent, the government has no further time to waste on mollycoddling the brat-pack of the Congress party. It must immediately extinguish the disruptionist challenge before it is too late.
JAUNDICED REACTION TO BAN
The first reaction was one of anger. How can any government decide what we should eat or not eat? But then it occurred that the Maharashtra government had precedents to support the ban on meat during the Jain festival of Paryushan. Further, you discovered that in Kerala the certified secular leftists and, of course, the secular Congress had denied tens of thousands of schoolchildren mid-day meals during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for devout Muslims. The ban was strictly enforced in Kerala's Muslim-dominated districts. Also, it turns out that the ban on meat during the Jain festival was first imposed by a Congress government way back in 1964.
All this only goes to support the fact that all that you find rotten and wrong in our system of governance has its origins in the Congress. Other parties are only guilty of aping the bad ways of the not-so-grand-but-nonetheless-old party. It is another matter that the jaundiced left-liberal media refuses to confront the truth.
MYTH AND REALITY
A business daily recently revealed that the two industrialists who are supposedly close to Narendra Modi have actually ended up as big losers in the first 15 months of the NDA government. While the net worth of a couple of industrialists has indeed increased, but the two Gujarati tycoons, Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, have had to suffer major reductions in their wealth. In fact, the net worth of Mukesh Ambani has come down by 25%, while that of Adani by more than 36%. Under the UPA, the net worth of Mukesh Ambani was Rs 161,000 crore. Now it is Rs 122,383 crore. Adani under the UPA was worth Rs 76,690 crore. Now, under Modi, he is worth Rs 48,874 crore.
So, if anyone was running a "suit-boot ki sarkar" it were the Gandhis. Indeed, Mukesh Ambani has had to put up with a very harsh decision of the Modi government, which reversed the increase in the price of natural gas granted by the UPA government during its last days in power. It had fixed the price at $8.40 per million British thermal unit, raising it from $4.20. But the Modi government reduced it to $5.61 per unit. It means a huge loss for Mukesh Ambani. Worse, the NDA government stipulated that the new price would not be available to Ambani unless he makes good the shortfall under the previous contract, something the UPA government had not done.
Moviegoers sold on Sunny Leone, the Indian-American porn actress-turned-Bollywood-diva, would soon be able to watch her in her most revealing role yet in a film produced by Pritish Nandy. The former editor, who is now into films besides so much else, was miffed at the blanket ban by censors on his adult offering. In desperation, he recently came to Delhi and knocked at a couple of VVIP doors. It seems his cries for help have been heard. Those who watch this kind of stuff can now expect to see Sunny Leone entice them on the big screen.