Make Monsoon Session ‘Modi Standard’

Make Monsoon Session ‘Modi Standard’

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 25 July, 2015

India's fate still hinges in large measure on the monsoons, and this time around those who predicted a gloomy forecast have been proved wrong. Adequate rainfall ensures that farm incomes will be sufficient to help power the consumer demand needed to spark off the investment in plant and equipment that is needed to ensure that enough jobs are created to absorb the millions of jobseekers who are entering the labour market each year. The rains have been satisfactory but such a windfall is not sufficient. The country needs to ensure a visible change from the indecision and paralysis which marked the later years of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and nothing would exemplify such a change better than a productive Monsoon Session of Parliament, in which key legislation gets passed. It would be unrealistic to expect the Congress to ensure smooth passage of legislation, for the party is looking to reviving its status as the largest political party in the country after the mauling it received during the 2014 polls. Neither would the political parties that have a stake in the coming Assembly elections in Bihar want to give the Narendra Modi government the satisfaction of getting key bills passed in both Houses of Parliament. The JDU, the RJD and quite possibly the Samajwadi Party, will each try to disrupt the proceedings, and will be joined in that by the CPI and the CPM, for both of whom Prime Minister Modi is anathema. Colleagues of the PM have not made it easier for him by their involvement in deals and decisions which on the face of it look dodgy. Certainly, accepting the resignations of some of those whose deeds have been outed in the media may lead to other eruptions of scandal, thereby leading to pressure to drop still more individuals. However unpalatable this may sound to BJP strategists, it would be a lesser evil to get some of the more egregious cases of wrongdoing to quit. After the Lalit Modi case and Vyapam, there seems little justification for Vasudhara Raje and Shivraj Chouhan to continue in their present posts, while in the case of Sushma Swaraj, she embarrassed the entire MEA cadre by going over their heads to get a favour done for a friend through a foreign government. The External Affairs Minister does not ask for favours of an envoy except through the machinery of the department, and by doing otherwise, the minister may have reduced her effectiveness in this particular ministry to a level that is deleterious to the national interest.

Let it be remembered that once sworn in as PM, Narendra Modi needs to serve only the national interest, and hence the need to act with despatch in cases of likely misfeasance brought to his attention. A stitch in time saves nine, and a resignation in time would create an atmosphere which may result in the avoiding by ministers and CMs of behaviour which would go against any reasonable code of ethics. Among the reasons why the immensely likeable A.B. Vajpayee was rejected by the voter in his quest for a fresh term in 2004 was the perception that he was too gentle with those who needed to be punished, such as those responsible for the stock exchange scam, which saw many middle class investors lose their savings and make them turn towards the Congress in the polls. If recent elections have shown anything, it is that voters have become far more fickle than in the past, and not very forgiving of results less than what is expected. The expectation from PM Modi is substantially high and hence, he will be judged not by the performance of past PMs but by a much higher standard, a "Modi Standard". In fulfilling these expectations, it is important that the Monsoon Session be a productive one, where legislation vital to economic and social progress gets passed. It has been a good monsoon. Now what is needed is a good Monsoon Session.

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