The Centre’s sudden decision to hang Ajmal Amir Kasab just a day before the beginning of the Winter Session of Parliament has given a new dimension to the national politics. This decision has emboldened the confidence of leaders of the UPA dispensation at the Centre which has been battered by several allegations of corruption for the past one and a half year. After all the judicial proceedings and trials in Kasab’s case, his execution was a mere formality. With the spread of news of his execution at Pune’s Yerwada Jail people of the country felt pleasant surprise. The BJP had made a political issue over delay in the execution of those convicts who were awarded death sentence. It began to clamour with the demand for execution of other prisoners who are on death row, especially Afzal Guru who was convicted for his role in hatching conspiracy of 2001 Parliament attack after Kasab’s death execution. What may be the fate of Afzal but with the execution of Kasab, the Centre is moving with confidence and fully prepared to take on opposition’s onslaught.
The change in national politics is significant as the Centre was finding difficult to deal with charges of corruption which have surfaced in the recent years. When Arvind Kejriwal began to expose scams after taking plunge into politics, it was believed that he would target only the Congress. But when he targeted BJP president Nitin Gadkari by exposing irregularities in his business activities, it provided enough avenues to the Congress to hit back at BJP. Gadkari’s case proved to be an albatross round its neck for the BJP. This case blunted the edge of its anti-corruption movement besides making its internal bickering public. The number of such leaders who are demanding the resignation of Gadkari is swelling by the day. Surprisingly, the party leaders seem to be in haste to expose each-other. In a latest development, senior BJP leader and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha has advised Gadkari to leave the post of party chief until he emerges clean in the probe.
The BJP is making fresh attempts to pressurize the government, however, the ruling party has resorted to new measures to tackle the opposition’s onslaught. Former CAG official RP Singh’s claims have given fresh breather to the embattled Congress. RP Singh has disclosed that he disagreed with the estimated loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to exchequer in distribution of 2G spectrum and he was forced to sign the report showing such a huge loss. The Congress is giving importance to RP Sing’s claims because the collection from recent auction of 2G spectrum, after the cancellation of previous allocations of spectrum, has been much lesser than expectation. This provided the Congress with an opportunity to totally reject the CAG’s claims of estimated Rs 1.76 lakh crore losses to the exchequer when 2G spectrum was allotted to private firms for the first time. This issue has sparked a new spate of debate between opposition and the ruling alliance. It is surprising to know that both sides have overlooked the fact that the procedure adopted for distribution of 2G spectrum was flawed and arbitrary. This is the reason why the Supreme Court canceled allocation of spectrum and asked to invite fresh biddings. If it is agreed that CAG’s estimation regarding loss is wrong, even then, it cannot be claimed that A Raja is clean and was no way indulged in corruption. It will be better for both the government and the opposition to stop quarreling over petty politics and take steps in preventing any irregularity in distribution of natural resources in future. The government is expected not to do anything which is seen as an attack on constitutional institution.
There are various issues on which the BJP can embarrass the government, but the party is mainly focusing on FDI in retail sector. The issue of FDI has become very controversial because of the government’s earlier commitment to take a concrete decision in this regard after evolving a consensus among all stakeholders. Nevertheless, a sudden decision of the Centre in this matter surprised all. Almost all the opposition parties including the BJP seem to be vehemently against FDI in retail; however, allowing foreign companies to invest in multi-brand retail is not going to have any immediate impact on livelihood of domestic retailers. The BJP is bent on a debate over this issue in the Parliament under the rules which entail provision for a debate followed by voting. The SP and BSP are intervening smooth functioning of both houses of the Parliament due to their own political interests. The opposition parties have felt that disruption in the proceedings of the Parliament created by them would convince the people of India about weak governance at the Centre.
A logjam in the Parliament is being witnessed in the last several sessions primarily because of lack of proper dialogue between the opposition and the government. Parliamentary logjam has indirectly helped the opposition to mount pressure on the government. But the government has now come out stronger and the opposition is left with no option than creating ruckus in the Houses to cover up its shortcomings. The BJP is trying to convince the people that the Centre is working arbitrarily and is devoid of support over the issue of FDI in the Parliament. It is not necessary for the opposition parties to support every decision of the government, but the fact cannot be overlooked that when the BJP was in power, the party had also endorsed FDI in retail. Both the ruling alliance and the opposition are required to focus on other major economic challenges being confronted by the country as foreign investment in multi-brand retail is not going to have any major impact on Indian economy. The people of the country, especially the poor, are least bothered about the rules pertaining to the FDI issue which would be discussed in the Parliament. Those people who are likely to be affected by FDI in retail just want to know how the government will protect their interests. The Opposition, especially the BJP, should rise to its responsibilities in the Parliament as it is expected from. The Centre is also advised to take such decisions having direct impact on people with consensus over it from all political parties. The clash between the government and the opposition will lead to benefit none. The political parties must understand that the challenges confronted by the country will not be aptly sorted out until serious discussions are not allowed over the issue in the Parliament. If the political parties wish to make people aware of their prowess through such conduct, they are completely mistaken.
(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on November 25, 2012 translated by the English Editorial. The author is Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)