Narendra Modi’s frontal attack on Congress’s First Family, blaming it for failing to reconcile with the defeat in 2014 Parliamentary elections, not letting the Parliament function and stalling pro-poor, pro-reform bills is indicative of BJP’s confrontationist stance ahead of the Budget session of Parliament.
Modi’s barbs against Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul emanates from the BJP leadership’s belief or maybe even frustration that the Congress would yet again resort to disruptionist politics in both Houses of Parliament and there isn’t much the government’s floor managers can do to make them see reason.
Congress has gathered enough ammunition — Gujarat Chief Minister Aanandiben Patel’s daughter Anara linked in an alleged “subsidized” land allotment, Maharastra Governor’s sanction to prosecute Ashok Chavan, Rohit Vemula suicide – to target Modi and stall the proceedings.
That’s the pattern the Congress has been following for the past three sessions.
Anara Patel’s business dealings could come handy for the Congress as it seeks to resume agitation inside Parliament, similar to what was seen during last year’s Monsoon session when it demanded the sackings of Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Vasundhara Raje and Sushma Swaraj.
This year’s Budget on February 29, the third one to be delivered by the Modi government, is vitally important both for the path the country may take and for BJP’s fortunes.
Passage of budget, however is not an issue because the ruling party at Centre has absolute majority in Lok Sabha.
Rajya Sabha, where the BJP is in minority and Congress is in majority, has no role in passage of budgetary provisions.
Modi has so far made a distinction between his speeches made inside and outside the Houses.
Inside the Parliament, Modi has delivered statesmanlike speeches, reaching out to the opposition whereas in public rallies, his speeches resemble that of BJP’s lead campaigner.
The Prime Minister is aware that when the Parliament would meet for two-part Budget session, pre and post recess, election process in the five states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry would be under way. The Parliament, in all likelihood, would become an arena for shadow boxing.
It is the second time in past two months that Modi has vented his ire against Congress high command over the manner in which the latter chose to stall Parliament.
On Friday, during a rally in Assam, he said: “This one family is bent on not letting Rajya Sabha function. This one family is bent on not letting any work take place in the country. ‘The people defeated us, so we will take revenge. We will take revenge on labourers’, that is its attitude,” he said.
The Prime Minister went on to list a number of bills which the “family” did not allow to be discussed and passed in Upper House.
In December at a conclave organized by Jagran Forum of Dainik Jagran, Modi hit out at Congress leadership, blaming the Gandhi family (without taking names) for disrupting legislative work.
"Democracy cannot function at the whims and fancies of anyone… Democracy cannot be restricted to elections and governments alone".
He described the two main dangers in democracy as "mantantra" (whims and fancies) and "dhantantra" (money power)".
“You must have seen that these days this (disruptions) have become a norm. Does a country run like this? The Parliament is not being allowed to function and the rights of the poor are getting stalled.
“What is being discussed? The GST and Parliament. Whatever has to happen with GST, will be done in consultation with everybody but what about the poor, what about the common man?
“That’s why we are asking them to make Parliament run, for the sake of the poor.
“If we negate this institution, it will put a question mark on democracy,” Modi had said.
It would be a mistake to interpret Modi’s attack on Congress’s First Family solely as an attempt to unseat the three-term old Tarun Gogoi government in Assam.
Ahead of the Winter session, the Prime Minister had invited Sonia, Rahul and Manmohan Singh for tea at his residence to discuss the passage of GST and other bills.
Despite the extra effort on Modi’s part, the Congress went back on warpath after making some conciliatory noises. The fate of GST still hangs in balance.
Modi’s statement and Rahul counter is ample proof that this time, even a perfunctory mood of conciliation will be absent.