The high voltage political drama that played out in the Rajya Sabha throughout Monday will be long remembered as a moment when a government with a massive mandate initiated a bold move towards the possible resolution of one of the trickiest issues affecting the country since Independence — the Jammu and Kashmir problem.
However, when Satish Chandra Mishra, the member of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the Rajya Sabha, got up to declare his party's support to the government on the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, even the subtext of the day seemed to be writing its own history. The BSP's unequivocal support to the government on such a contentious issue was a major surprise.
More political rivals, who were at the BJP's throat not too long ago in the Lok Sabha election earlier this summer, came out in support of the bill soon thereafter. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) — who have been staunchly anti-BJP in the past — quickly followed suit. The YSRCP, TRS, BJD and AIADMK too declared support.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was passed 125:61 in the Rajya Sabha, making it a watershed moment when a legislation of such paramount importance was passed with a record support from the parties. The political class of the country seemed to be showing rare maturity — or political wisdom — by aligning itself with the government's vision in the interest of the nation.
Has Narendra Modi 2.0 succeeded in winning faith of at least some sections of the political class, especially on issues that concern the larger interest of the nation?
Or is it that parties — that are ideologically opposed to the BJP — are reviewing their stands and beginning to align with the government on issues of national interest as they have realised they risk losing public support if they don't? The Balakot strikes and results of the Lok Sabha polls were a recent example.
Either way, the government on Monday put its political will on display with temerity as it brought the volatile Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in the Rajya Sabha, the House where it is in the minority as opposed to the Lok Sabha where the bill comes up for passage on Tuesday.
Despite a spirited argument by the veteran Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and a walkout by the Trinamool Congress, JD(U) and NCP, the government succeeded in getting the bill passed with a voice vote. The otherwise staid Rajya Sabha, as opposed to the animated Lok Sabha, was witnessing history being written.
The confidence with which this was achieved by the government stemmed from the fact that the ruling BJP is fully aware it has its finger on the pulse of the nation. It also knows that other political parties are not too willing to flow against the tide. Within a fortnight, the government has pushed through bills with a high inflammatory quotient, ranging from the RTI Amendment and triple talaq to Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) and Article 370.
The BJP-led NDA government’s success in getting these important bills passed in the Rajya Sabha lies in the BJP’s effective floor management and its astute strategy to counter the Opposition. It simultaneously indicates the Opposition’s failure to act as a bloc.
The smooth passage of bills in the Rajya Sabha where BJP doesn’t have a majority reflects the actualisation of Modi’s new slogan — Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas (Support of all, Development of all and Trust of all). This is evident in the way he has garnered the support of even his staunchest critics on crucial bills.
In contrast, the Opposition is a case of disarray. The largest Opposition party, the Congress, was left virtually isolated in its vehement opposition of the bills related to Jammu and Kashmir. While poor numbers in both Houses — 47 in Rajya Sabha and 52 in Lok Sabha — is a definite handicap for the Congress, what is more worrisome from its perspective is its inability to influence like-minded parties in the case of critical bills.
The Congress failed to garner support in the Upper House in the case of the RTI (Amendment), triple talaq and UAPA bills as well. Despite being aggressively vocal, the Congress party lost the ability to anchor the Opposition.
Updated Date: Aug 06, 2019 11:10:18 IST