Congress' dossier of misplaced priorities: China row, GST rank low; mob lynching tops agenda

A dossier prepared by the research department of the All-India Congress Committee, which lists burning issues to attack the government with in Parliament, has become a point of slugfest between the ruling BJP and the Opposition. While the BJP has stated that the dossier is an attempt by the Congress to disrupt proceedings in Parliament, the Grand Old Party has hit back saying that the dossier is a routine document. It has accused the ruling dispensation of contorting facts.

The controversy broke on Wednesday morning when the dossier, prepared by the research department headed by Congress MP Rajiv Gowda, came into circulation. It lists several issues to corner the government during the ongoing Monsoon Session. The 'key issues to raise in Parliament' section puts 'mob violence and lynching - from Akhlaq to Junaid' top-most on the agenda. It’s followed by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's role in fanning communalism and cow vigilantism in the state. Economic issues and terrorism rank much lower in the priority order.

 Congress dossier of misplaced priorities: China row, GST rank low; mob lynching tops agenda

Representational image. AFP

As the day progressed in Parliament on Wednesday, the events that played out seemed to be in accordance with the dossier. The leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, raised the issue of lynching. While listing recent lynching incidents, Azad said: "Instances of lynching took place earlier as well. But nowadays, members of the ruling party or Sangh Parivar are involved in these."

A threadbare analysis of the contents of the dossier points to one vital fact: With the public mood on issues such as the GST not against the government – as the Opposition may have anticipated – lynching by cow vigilantes is the strongest issue available to the Congress. Another issue of import is the farmers' agitation in Mandsaur, which all political parties are anyway trying to make their own. A look at other issues reveals that playing the constructive role that the Opposition can play in a democracy is not on the party's agenda. Disrupting the government's functioning and staging walkouts seem to be its main intention.

What is interesting is that other national issues such as GST, or the country's escalating border crisis with China, have been pushed to the bottom of the list. The dossier also mentions the upcoming Madhur Bhandarkar film Indu Sarkar –  which tells the story of Indira Gandhi and the Emergency.

"Economic and development issues rank lower in order in the Congress dossier because it will expose the UPA regime – when development was poor and marred with corruption and scams," BJP MP Subramanian Swamy reportedly told a news channel.

Mosquito-borne diseases and the Zika virus also featured on the Congress dossier.

The issue of cow vigilantes has already become a point of embarrassment for the government, with Modi categorically condemning violence spread in the name of cow protection. Even the farmers' distress that is brewing in Madhya Pradesh and a few other states is a definitive handle to hem in the government.

Several top leaders of the Opposition have either publicly supported demonetisation (like Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar) and GST has been accepted by the general public.

Similarly, the India-China standoff on the border could have been a heavy-duty issue to corner the government, but the 'secret' meeting between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and the Chinese envoy to India has forced the Congress on the back foot. Any question by the Congress on concerns with China is most likely to be met with counter-questions about this meeting.

"Congress won't be comfortable with the China issue because Rahul secretly met the Chinese envoy," Swamy told a news channel. Moreover, the Modi government has already 'checkmated' the Opposition in an astute move by calling an all-party meeting on the issue.

Reacting sharply to BJP's allegations on Wednesday, AICC spokesperson and Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said: "BJP is trying to circulate false news in the media by contorting the facts. AICC Research Department lists important issues before every Parliament session.  The Congress, as a responsible Opposition, raises these important and burning issues in Parliament,"

"For this session, our research department has listed farmers' distress, Dalit atrocities, GST issues, MNREGA wages, failure in the education sector, etc. We challenge the NDA government and Modi to come forward and discuss these issues. Congress is a 130-year old party and its members are responsible for their statements. We don’t want to disrupt the workings of the Parliament but we’ll take up all the burning issues and ensure that the government should be made accountable for all its mistakes. We won't allow the BJP government to take an escape route," Surjewala said.

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Updated Date: Jul 19, 2017 18:42:29 IST