2.15pm: Just as we were wondering what the BJP’s next move might be, BJP veteran LK Advani spent no time in playing their new card – FDI. Immediately after the Houses were adjourned, Advani asked in a public meeting if the government is going to look only at the development of cities by furthering the interests of urban industrialists. He added that despite the political crisis, the government only has foreign investment in mind. Either he underestimates the the noise they have made or has great regard for the Congress’ patience to have come to the conclusion that the party might have anything outside the Coalgate on its mind!
2.00pm: The Lok Sabha speaker tried to broker a discussion, however, gave up immediately adjourning the House. The Rajya Sabha, too, was adjourned for the third time and for the day. Evidently, BJP resorted to the first trick in India’s textbook of politics – disruption and dissent – in its attempt to corner the Congress and force the PM to step down. However, Sonia Gandhi countered the Opposition without softening, issuing a directive to fight the BJP head on. Given that three days of slogan chanting might have exhausted the BJP and hardly dented the UPA, is it time for a change in tactic?
1.20pm: Trust Mamata Banerjee to add just the right spice in a political soup. When you just start wondering if she’s finally got diplomacy back in her dictionary – she said that all issues can be solved by discussions and negotiations between the UPA and the Opposition – she springs back to form. “The Opposition has every right to demand what it wants. But if I ask you to resign right now, will you do so?” she quips at a reporter.
1.15pm: Poetry and humour over, Sonia Gandhi is finally heard asking her party to draw out their swords. Reports suggest that Sonia has asked her party to stop being ‘defensive’ and switch to ‘attack’ mode and speak the language of the Opposition. While the nation and the Opposition demands the PM speak up, Sonia shows once again, who the boss is.
12.55pm: While self-righteous intellectuals will be appalled and circus watchers amused, by the association of poetry with the Parliament that has been over the past three days, Derek O’Brien seems to have found just the right poet for the occasion. T S Eliot, Prufrock, get the drift? Given what his home state is dwindling to, it’s probably not surprising that O’Brien finds the Wasteland poet on the tip of his tongue!
Parliament adjourned again as I think of TS Eliot “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons”
— Derek O’Brien (@quizderek) August 22, 2012
12.45pm: The Congress seems to have found an unlikely sympathiser in Vijay Mallya, who was heard marvelling at the slogan chanting in Parliament on Twitter. For starters, the party might consider following the Mallya mantra on being stuck in muck. Look the other way, Mallya would probably say. The Congress could follow and save their eardrums in the process too!
I have witnessed many instances of workers shouting slogans. Now I am sadly witnessing the same slogan shouting in the Parliament of India
12:30pm: Khurshid, visibly irritated at not getting ‘third day lucky’ like he hoped, called the BJP’s act irresponsible. “If they are contemplating any wild move, they should reflect on the responsibility we all owe to the Parliament. They can’t shift the goal post so as to hit a goal,” said Khurshid, leaving us to marvel at his flair for metaphors amid the ear-splitting din that the Parliament has turned into.
12.o5am: The Parliament, much like getting stuck in Mumbai’s traffic jam, failed to inch forward one bit and got adjourned the moment it resumed. This time Congress too decided to give it back to the BJP, by taking to slogan chanting themselves – ‘Pradhan Matri zindabad’, they hollered boisterously as the BJP went on with its own shouting and screaming.
11.25am: The NDA, meanwhile, is also busy dismissing ‘rumours’. Sharad Yadav thickly denies rifts in the NDA and Sushma Swaraj shoots down reports that the Opposition is looking towards a mass resignation from the Lok Sabha to force early elections. “We are not resigning from any committee or the Parliament,” said Swaraj. However, when the BJP stormed the well, the JDU members didn’t join them today.
11.15am: The Rajya Sabha chairman calls for an all-party meet in the Parliament, following two days of turbulence and the stormy start to today’s session, hoping that the meet will help resolve the impasse between the UPA and the Opposition and let the Houses resume business normally. Congress, for one, is probably keeping its fingers crossed!
11.10am: Shashi Tharoor seemed to echo the Congress’ frustration in his tweet, right after the sessions were adjourned. “Parliament adjourned again. What a betrayal of the people of India & of the institutions& practices of deliberative democracy,” he said.
11am: The Houses open, again, to slogan chanting demanding the PM resigns. Both Houses get adjourned as soon as they open.
10.50am: Law minister Salman Khurshid points out the method in the BJP’s madness, seemingly. “We hope to get third time lucky, or third day lucky so to say,” he quips, outside the Parliament. Slamming the BJP for discrediting the democratic processes the Parliament stands for, Khurshid explains how the BJP has ‘shot itself in the foot’. “We have nothing to hide. They are the ones who said that the CAG reports are significant. We agree and we want our reply to be televised,” he adds. Lashing out at the BJP for doing what is a staple in the political discourse of the country – screaming without getting a proper grip on the issue – Khurshid said that the Opposition fears being cornered, now that they have created a ruckus without reading the CAG report properly, the same report on which the UPA has built a ‘compelling’ defence.
True to the country’s political tradition, this session of the Parliament too has turned out to be another mudslinging fest, only a little one sided this time. At first the Congress drew flak for failing Assam as it reeled under ethnic riots, then questions were raised on its diplomatic relations with the US after the Gurdwara shootings and now, the Coalgate seems to have hammered the last nail into the Congress coffin being built by the BJP in the Parliament.
Despite repeated claims of the UPA that it can explain the logic behind the dubious coal block allocation that has allegedly left the Indian exchequer poorer by Rs 1.8 lakh crore and the Speakers’ requests to allow them a hearing, the BJP doesn’t seem too willing to relent. And what a spectacle they have put up – complete with slogan chanting, name-calling et al!
The Congress, on the other hand, has refused to budge and defended the Prime Minister’s stand, rubbishing the BJP’s demands of him stepping down as ‘preposterous’. Result – a series of adjournments.
The biggest casualty? As usual, legislation that was supposed to be tabled in this session.