A major stalemate
Why do you think MPs behave the way they do in Parliament? The answer is clear. A recent survey has found that their performance as parliamentarians has no bearing on their electability. So, you know who to blame for the disgusting goings-on in and outside Parliament. None other than yourselves, dear voters. You send Rahul Gandhi to Parliament and this is what you get.
How can you not allow Parliament to function and still claim to be a democrat? Parliament is the heart of the Indian democracy. Choke the supply of oxygen of debate, discussion and dissent to that heart and you threaten the very life-breath of our democracy.
There may be no angels on the treasury benches — and most certainly there are none — but they at least have reason on their side. They are ready to debate anything and everything that might be bothering the Sanjay Gandhi Mark II of the Sonia Gandhi Congress. Having taken over the control of the family firm, the inexperienced and immature inheritor now wants to control Indian Parliament as well. And how?
You have seen how his storm-troopers have behaved inside Parliament. Even those who have strong reservations about Rahul’s leadership skills have had to per force fall in line, lest they are marginalised by the mother-son duo.
Very often when seniors on the Congress benches have sought to ignore some home truths uttered by the treasury benches amidst bedlam, the doting mother in Sonia Gandhi is seen urgently instigating them to rise and create trouble.
Which brings one to the central point. The Gandhis remain unreconciled to the loss of power. They find it inconceivable that someone like Narendra Modi is Prime Minister. Unfortunately for them, the deepening of the democratic process over the years has broken the spell of the Nehru-Gandhi family over the country. Increasingly, the Gandhis too have to rough it out in streets and bazaars of the country for every vote like everyone else.
By embracing the roughneck politics of his late uncle — a trailer of which was on display when he sent abusive foot soldiers, paid or unpaid there is no knowing, to stage an ugly protest outside the house of the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan — Rahul cannot expect to revive the fortunes of the Congress. If stalling Parliament and offering well-rehearsed sound-bites to television channels was all there was to politics, he would be Prime Minister sooner than anyone thinks.
But in the badly fragmented polity in which the Congress footprint has shrunk so much that it hardly has a presence in major states, Rahul should entertain no hope of reclaiming the Prime Ministerial gaddi for the family anytime soon. Even Sanjay Gandhi produced catchy slogans, though he was done in essentially by his insistence on forced sterilisations. Again, Sanjay operated in a different era. Indira Gandhi was by far the most popular leader of her time when she propped up her younger son.
Today’s Congress is a pale version of the party in the 1970s and early 1980s. Instead of being the foremost political formation, it is now one of a dozen-odd parties which have to fight fiercely for every vote. Indeed, a tally of 44 in the Lok Sabha is not much higher than Jayalalithaa’s 37 or Mamata’s 34. Therefore, Rahul should stop punching above his weight. No-resignations-no-Parliament confrontation can only result in a humiliating rebuff. Modi is not for bending, at least not before someone who despite being reared in a highly political environment is yet to pick up the ABCD of realpolitik. Significantly, if some opposition parties seem to have gone along with the Congress, it is only on account of suspensions of the MPs, not on the party’s demand for resignations. In any case, people like Sitaram Yechury and D. Raja hog media attention far in excess of their actual strength on the ground.
Meanwhile, the ruling party cannot escape blame for allowing the current stalemate to persist this long. On the current reckoning, the monsoon session is a complete washout, though there might still be a flicker of hope that better sense would prevail and the GST Bill might get through with common consent. It will be nothing short of a miracle if the government and the main opposition, locked in an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, can suspend hostilities for a brief while in the larger national good.
A better floor management and a clever carrot-and-stick policy to isolate the Sanjay Gandhi-II Congress were missing in this session. Mayawati ranting about corruption is the best proof that the government does not know how to handle footloose leaders who are ever willing to do business with anyone who is in a position to offer blandishments accompanied by the threat of blackmail if those are not accepted. Or it could be that Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav find it hard to be on the same side. Whatever it is, the ruling party is badly missing the services of the late Pramod Mahajan.
Meanwhile, the current stalemate in Parliament could not have come at a worse time. Just when the economy is reviving — the indirect tax collections in the first three months of this financial year have been record high — Foxconn, the world’s biggest manufacturer of iPhones and other such modern gadgets, is exploring options to invest as much $20 billion in India, when the stalled infrastructure projects are again being implemented, the Gandhis decide to throw a spanner in the works. This is terrible politics. Both domestic and foreign investors cannot be impressed with the disruptive and destructive Congress stance.
The charge that the Gandhis do not want the Modi government to succeed lest it scupper their own chances of a comeback cannot be dismissed out of hand. It is for them to establish how Sushma Swaraj’s impropriety becomes resignation-worthy. In all likelihood, in an advanced democracy she would have had to go. But as per the standards set by none other than the Congress, her action is akin to a minor traffic offence. We can only hope that better sense prevails in the 10 Janpath establishment, or, essentially with the four people who pass for it in that family-controlled rump of a party.
Who protected Lalit Modi in UPA?
Why did the UPA government do nothing after issuing a blue corner notice against Lalit Modi? The court order cited that reason alone while restoring his passport. Even an appeal against the decision would have been of no avail because the government had not moved an inch in the matter after issuing the notice.
Was a key minister playing in the hands of the dominant faction in the BCCI? Keeping Modi away from the country served the interests of this group, which had ruled the roost in the BCCI till it too was exposed and neutralised after the IPL scam. Keeping Lalit Modi out but not taking investigations to their logical conclusion was a careful strategy. If he were to be hauled up for the embezzlement of IPL funds, his rivals in the BCCI would have run the risk of their own financial wheeling-dealing being exposed. The identity of the minister is not hard to guess.