Parliament Winter Session Washout, Thanks To All

New Delhi: The winter session of the parliament has been a washout with both the ruling and the opposition parties giving priority to their egos and interests rather than the people and the country. The session started on November 16 and ended on December 16 without transacting any meaningful business. It has passed four bills but the most important bill relating to the Goods and Services Tax could not be passed. While the opposition parties insisted on the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the parliament while the debate on demonetization takes place, the PM chose to address rallies in different states without attending the parliament. He and his ministerial colleagues kept making allegations against the opposition parties provoking and making them stubborn in their demand for PM’s presence. In the last phase of the session, the ruling party itself obstructed the proceedings in parliament by raising the old issue of Italian court’s remarks about Agusta helicopter scam. The CBI arrested Air Marshal Tyagi in this connection when the debate on demonetization was being stalled. It was considered to be a diversionary tactic intended to show the Congress party leadership in poor light.  There was not an iota of sincerity on the part of the ruling party to discuss the important issue on the floor of the house. During the 31 days the members were bickering in parliament, the poor people of the country were spending their precious time in the queues before the ATM for no avail.

Both Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu were at the vilification best heckling the opposition every time they spoke. The basic responsibility to run the house rests on the government. In this particular context, the government appeared unconcerned when an important bill was pending and the time is being wasted. Only veteran leader LK Advani expressed his anguish twice during the session at the attitude of both ruling and opposition parties. But leaders of his own party did not heed to his advice.  On the other hand, the opposition leaders were heard quoting the senior BJP leader. Advani criticized Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan for not doing enough to help matters improve. He had requested Home Minister Rajnath Singh to intervene and speak to the leaders of the opposition. But it appears that the prime minister was in no mood to relent and he wished to go to the people and communicate to them directly rather than using the floor of parliament. He is keen on projecting the BJP as the only party which is interested in ending corruption and black money and the Congress as the only party which is thriving on corruption and black money. And he is confident that people would trust and support him in spite of the difficulties they are undergoing. He can bank on the electronic media and newspaper to spread his message. He did not express any regrets for the monumental decision he had taken. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his brief but powerful intervention, described demonetization as a monumental mismanagement. He also spoke of organized loot and licensed plunder in his criticism in the wake of the historic decision.  Narendra Modi, however,  insisted that the country is going to benefit from demonetization decision.

Prime Minister preferred to explain his actions at a meeting of captive audience-the BJP MPs=rather than the Parliament where he has to contend with uncomfortable questions from the irate opposition members. In a party meeting he can hear claps and only claps appreciating his speech and decisions. He attacked the Congress and other opposition parties with no holds barred saying that the opposition is worried because its cash reserves have dwindled.

Earlier in the day, a delegation led by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi met Prime Minister Modi to give a representation requesting him to help the farmers who are in great difficulties. Rahul said the prime minister has heard their plea but did not respond. He also said the PM has accepted that the farmers are under great stress. It is to be noted that it was the first meeting between Modi and Rahul after the latter made an allegation that the PM is personally terrified to attend the parliament since he (Rahul) was personally corrupt and he has evidence to prove the charge. Many opposition leaders including Arvind Kejriwal had asked Rahul Gandhi to produce the evidence he has before media persons if he is not allowed to speak in the parliament, as he alleged. But the nation is still waiting for Rahul to divulge the crucial information he claimed to possess. He said he has bullet proof evidence against the PM. The media has been cajoling him to produce if he has really got it. The BJP said on the other day that the Congress VP does not have any evidence and he is making a joker of himself.

Leaders of some  opposition parties including the Congress, the RJD, JD(U), Trinamool Congress have met President Pranab Mukherjee at Rastrapati Bhavan on Friday. The delegation was led by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi.  Angered by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi who sought an appointment with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, some opposition parties had dropped out from the rally that went to the Rastrapati Bhavan to meet President Pranab Mukherjee.  The Left parties, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Nationalist Congress party and the DMK decided to stay away from the march. The SP which is the ruling party in UP and the BSP which is aspiring to win majority in the coming elections had taken objection to the Congress delegation meeting the PM to appraise the latter of the farmers’ owes that were recorded by Rahul during his recent tour in UP. Rahul Gandhi and his party colleagues had requested the PM to waive farmers’ loans. The prime minister is understood to have commented that they should be meeting like this frequently. The SP and BSP leaders asked, “Are we not interested in the welfare of the farmers. What is the point in Rahul Gandhi going to the PM without informing us?’” The carefully crafted opposition unity has thus taken a beating because of the thoughtless action on part of the Congress leaders.

BJP spokesmen had ridiculed the other opposition parties for joining hands with the Congress against whom they were fighting on Bofors, Coalgate, 2-G and other scams. However, the opposition stood united and they are bent on continuing the tirade against the government by organizing public meetings across the country. While the entire spectrum of the opposition is against demonetization or the way the decision was taken and implemented, the TDP, TRS, Akali Dal and other friendly parties are supporting the government.  The only opposition party that sided with Modi was Nitish Kumar’s JD (U) while its senior most leader Sharad Yadav is among the opposition leaders who met the president. BJP and its partners in the NDA on one hand, the opposition parties on the other, will be going to the people to explain the two sides of the demonetization decision. It is for the people to judge which argument is reasonable and trustworthy. So, the debate is shifting from the parliament in New Delhi to the people’s parliament.

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