The Resignation Drama
With Rahul Gandhi adamant on his resignation, the Congress is going rudderless until it can get a leadership model in place. Among the names doing the rounds are Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ashok Gehlot and Mukul Wasnik. But according to a former CWC member, the Gandhis are more keen to induct someone from the south. Interestingly, when Rahul Gandhi had announced his intention to resign at the CWC meet following the Lok Sabha debacle, there was a murmur that the entire CWC should offer its resignation to show solidarity. But apparently, this was more of an ornamental statement than one of intent—for no CWC member has followed up on this since.
Filling the Opposition Void
What happens when there is no Opposition? Well, then the void gets filled from within as the first week of Parliament saw an interesting exchange between BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. This was during Question Hour when the latter commented that during calamities, only state-run operators BSNL and MTNL offer free service to subscribers, to which Rudy replied that even private operators provide free services during floods, cyclones and droughts. To this, Prasad countered that it was only for a brief span of time unlike the state-run operators. Rudy replied that the problem with state-run operators was that they also charged for call drops! Maneka Gandhi, too, questioned the Environment Minister on the green cover and whether enough saplings are planted to replace trees cut for infrastructure projects. She also wanted to know if the one percent claim of green cover included sugar cane plantations as the satellite images are taken when the crop is at full height and could be misleading. Trying to counter her disapproving look with one of his winning smiles, Prakash Javadekar pointed out that satellite pictures are taken every month and the data is analysed to ensure that sugarcane crop is not included! However, Maneka didn’t seem too convinced with his answer.
The Thesaurus Twins
The Congress may be lacking in numbers, but with the Thesaurus twins—Shashi Tharoor and Manish Tewari—in the Lower House, it is certainly not lacking in words to bamboozle the Treasury benches. Recently, it was Manish Tewari who took on Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on the issue of the U.S. withdrawing Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) concessions from India. “I have heard the rather long and filibustering answer given by the Commerce Minister…,” said Tewari launching his attack. Goyal, too, took him on, regarding the allegations regarding the “filibustering” nature of his reply. And question hour ended on a lighter note. So much more effective than storming the well of the House, or trading insults when a lot more can be achieved with a little bit of wit and an intimate knowledge of the Oxford dictionary!