S Madhusudhana Rao
Three days were over in the three-week monsoon session of parliament. Day after day, the scenario in the House had been the same. There was a palpable feeling of déjà vu. On the eve of the opening of the session, every newspaper had seen this coming and some had even predicted that it would be monsoon dhamaka with light and sound but without rain. It is becoming clearer by the day that those observations were not off the mark and no attempt is being made to find a compromise solution to acrimonious and personalized attacks.
The stand taken by the Congress and BJP before the session started on Tuesday last was well known. The former insists on sacking union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje over their links with fugitive Lalit Modi, former chief of IPL, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan over Vyapam scam. The BJP flatly refuses to consider the opposition demand, maintaining that the leaders have done nothing wrong. Amidst the war of words and protests in the House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to maintain golden silence which made his predecessor Manmohan Singh the butt of opposition (BJP) jokes. Now, ironically, the saffron party is at the receiving end.
It looks like the impasse will continue, with neither side willing to come down a step to talk. While the Congress is gritty determined to play the same cards as the BJP had played as the main opposition party for a decade, the saffron party has taken an adamant stand on the three issues. If the deadlock continues, the monsoon session will be a washout. Should it happen, who will be the winners and losers in the political tug-of-war? Congress or BJP? While we, the people, are mere spectators of political shenanigans, our elected representatives are indulging in ego-nursing exercise at individual and party level.
A case in point is Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s Facebook post. Not known for his political savviness, Vadra, a target of BJP leaders for his controversial land deals, has taken sudden interest in parliament proceedings with a dig at saffron party leaders. “Parliament begins and so do their petty diversion political tactics… People of India are not fooled. Regret to see India led by such so called leaders!!” Vadra has said in his post.
Congress argues as a citizen of India, he can express his opinion. But some BJP leaders have seen an opportunity in his comment to pull him up before parliament. First, they shouted slogans against Vadra in the Lok Sabha for “criticizing the functioning of parliament” followed by a privilege motion. It was moved by BJP chief whip Arjun Ram Meghwal who alleged that Vadra’s FB post amounted to ‘contempt and it was “a clear cut case of breach of privilege.” So, it should be referred to the privileges committee for “appropriate decision.”
Whether Vadra’s comment comes under breach of privilege is not the issue. But the extent to which the clash between a family and a ruling party has gone and the paranoia about the Congress leadership in and outside of parliament.
The trouble is when politics and statecraft turn personal, the scope for wider discussion and options for healthy debate will diminish. Issues turn stand-offs and personalities take centre-stage. Such developments undermine the democratic process.