By Amulya Ganguli
The Lok Sabha speaker may have withdrawn her remarks about the Congress being indifferent towards “national interest” on the last day of parliament’s winter session on December 23, but to the people at large, the grandmotherly Sumitra Mahajan had a valid point.
The virtual washing out of the session, except for the passage of the juvenile justice bill and a few others, was yet again a sign of the Congress’s cussed tactics which have made it impervious to the infamy it is acquiring by its obstructionism.
The party has evidently convinced itself that it is motivated in its daily disruptions of parliamentary proceedings by the pursuit of worthy causes such as a union minister’s insensitive remarks about dalits or the Arunachal Pradesh governor’s allegedly unconstitutional conduct, not to mention the latest charges of dubious deals under Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s tutelage (till 2013) of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).
But the widespread perception is that the Congress’s sole objective is to stall the Narendra Modi government’s economic reforms lest these pro-development measures fulfil his “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (together, we’ll progress) plans and make the Congress sink deeper into the political mire.
Hence, parliament’s failure to yet again approve of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) despite the prime minister’s initiative to discuss the bill at his residence with Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh since the tax is regarded as a major pro-reforms step.
The Congress, of course, has long been intent on paying the BJP back in its own coin in view of the latter’s blockage of the GST when the Congress was in power. For a while, this tit-for-tat response might have passed muster with the general public, but no longer, because the putting up of the roadblocks has gone on for far too long.
Instead, such knee-jerk ripostes are now seen as a mean-minded method of hindering the country’s progress for, ultimately, it is not Modi who will suffer if the reforms are stalled but the nation as a whole.
Tactics of this kind are also self-destructive, for they show the Congress, and especially its leaders, in a poor light because of the evident spitefulness of its acts. Of the leaders, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi reveal themselves as being unable to decide how far they should take their obstructionism since it is obviously not something which can be carried on indefinitely, session after session.