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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 33 New Delhi August 8, 2015

Ill-timed and Ill-advised Move

Saturday 8 August 2015, by SC


The logjam in Parliament continues. What is more, the threat of the entire monsoon session being washed out due to the inability of the ruling party at the Centre to meet the legitimate demands of the principal Opposition party with regard to both the Lalitgate and Vyapam scams has become quite potent in the wake of the unfolding developments in the Lok Sabha in particular.

One has to quite sharply underscore one point: the Lok Sabha Speaker’s latest action of suspending 25 Congress MPs for not allowing the Lower House to function has only complicated matters. It was doubtless both ill-timed and ill-advised. As a scribe not really sympathetic to the Opposition (notably the Congress) unequivocally asserted in a TV discussion, “It has had the net effect of uniting the entire Opposition instead of dividing it.” If the objective was to isolate the Congress from the rest of the Opposition, it has failed miserably. Not only that. BJP leaders now feel it could have an adverse effect on the party’s prospects in the crucial Bihar Assembly elections. In fact even the leader of the Trinamul Congress, which is not fully in tune with the Congress on the issue of the latter’s agitational tactics in Parliament, has aired the same view. In Sudeep Bandyopadhyay’s considered opinion (which he expressed in a public interview), “It (suspension of the MPs) is not a wise step for the government. The BJP’s floor management, I would say, is not rising to the occasion.”

What is becoming increasingly transparent is that there is growing public support behind Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s observation that the “way they have suspended our members,... is anti-democratic”, “it is murder of democracy”. Party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi’s mocking statement on the government’s climb-down on the land bill has also drawn popular endorsement. “They mode a lot of noise, threatened, shouted and now turned back and ran away,” he said. This approach on the part of Narendra Modi (who actually got cold feet in carrying out major changes in the land law fearing a negative impact in the Bihar Assembly polls) is bound to embolden the Congress to step up its agitation within Parliament (as the Sonia-Rahul mood suggests). In this scenario the government has no option but to get the suspen-sion revoked at the earliest.

Against such a backdrop the only positive event of the last few days was the Union Government signing the Framework Agreement with the Naga insurgent leaders heading the NSCN(IM). This has definitely brightened prospects of ending the country’s oldest insurgency. Though the details of the agreement have yet to be made public, it is learnt that what has been agreed upon by both sides does not involve redrawing of the borders of several States adjoining Nagaland and where the Nagas reside.

However, it would be foolhardy for the Narendra Modi Government to advertise this latest Naga accord as a feather in its cap. Such a display of partisanship eschewing the bipartisan outlook would indeed be juvenile, to say the least.

August 5 S.C.