With the war of words between the Congress and BJP for the last 2-3 months, the political ambience of the country appears to be more tense in coming days. The face-off between these two national parties started in the last session of Parliament when the BJP, main opposition party, demanded for the formation of JPC in order to probe the 2G scam which was continuously rejected by the government. The winter session of Parliament could not function for a single day owing to the verbal war between the Congress and BJP. The BJP dubs it its own victory, whereas the UPA government and the Congress, leading at the Centre, find itself in discomfiture. The price hike was getting pertinent before the winter session, and the opposition had already made it an issue, but the skyrocketing prices of onions and other veggies let the BJP to have more opportunity to slam the government, making difficult avenue for it. Perhaps, this was the reason that the Central government was compelled to reshuffle its Cabinet. As the reshuffling clearly indicated that the government was not able to seek any way to give respite to the price-stricken people, the Prime Minister left with no option but to change those ministers who were some way or the other responsible for the price hike. The government took away food and civil supply portfolio from Sharad Pawar and petroleum from Murli Deora respectively. Despite this, it is unlikely that the government would escape criticism.

When the opposition is mounting pressure for probing the 2G spectrum scam by JPC, Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resource Development with portfolio of Telecom Ministry also, suddenly put question mark on the CAG’s report. Supreme Court came heavily on Sibal and the government was put in embarrassment. As the Apex Court directed the CBI to ignore Kapil Sibal’s comment and continue the investigation process, the opposition will get more opportunity to attack on the government. The opposition has announced that if JPC is not constituted to probe the spectrum scam, they will not let the Parliament session function. It is clear that the situation has become worse for the Congress and the Central government. If strategists of the Congress party planned to raise question over the CAG’s report in order to save the government from getting it embarrassed, it has failed miserably.  

It seems that the confession of Hindu radical Swami Asimanand was published to shift the growing pressure towards the BJP. The way Congress leaders cornered the RSS by dint of this confession, the BJP is furious. In order to hit the BJP more Karnataka Governor Hansraj Bhardwaj gave permission to prosecute against CM Yeddyurappa who is tainted with giving undue advantage to his kith and kin. It is well known that Bhardwaj is closure to the Congress. It is significant that in the context of corruption whenever the Congress was put in dock, it also reminded the BJP of Yeddyurappa’s corruption.

When I-T tribunal revealed that Ottavio Quattrocchi along with Win Chadha took kickbacks in Bofors gun deal, the Gandhi family was made embarrassed. Although there is no relation between Bhardwaj’s nod for prosecution against Yeddyurappa, 2G spectrum scam and bofors issue, the BJP assumes that the Central government was facing embarrassment due to these two reasons so they have taken revenge through Bhardwaj. Whatever clarification the Congress gives, the decision of Bhardwaj looks hasty and full with vengeance. It is pertinent that many a chief minister has benefitted their kith and kin under discretionary power. Undoubtedly, this is also a sort of corruption, but Hansraj Bhardwaj is setting a new precedent. This trend will affect the Centre-state relation.

If corruption has to be checked, there is a need to make concrete rule and regulation and institutions like Lokpal would require to be set up. These institutions do have such power that they can independently probe any case of corruption. The Central government moots to bring legislation of Lokpal to check corruption. Perhaps, the government will table this legislation in the next session, but going by its plan the Centre seems to have gone astray.        

It is disappointing that the UPA-government is surrounded with the problems from the very beginning of its second innings. The situation is going intolerable for the Congress. Five states will go for assembly elections and other important states like Uttar Pradesh comes in next year. The BJP is continuously creating pressure on the Centre and that’s why the opposition party perhaps decided to unfurl tricolor at Lal Chowk on the occasion the Republic Day, which is creating a new problem for the Congress. If Srinagar is an integral part of India, everyone has right to hoist the flag over there, but Omar Abdullah does not want to allow this to take place in the wake of pressure from separatists and opposition of Jammu & Kashmir. The Centre was silent till the date, but it wants to foil the attempt of BJP by sending more forces to Jammu & Kashmir. If it happens, the faceoff between the Congress and BJP will be glaring. Both these national parties earlier showed differences on several issues, but the BJP has given its positive contribution to the parliamentary proceedings of the ruling government. This contribution was seen in the earlier tenure of the UPA government. The budget session of the Parliament is at hand. Going through the growing tension between the Congress and BJP in the run-up for the budget session, it is predicted that one more session of the Parliament may be sacrificed. If it happens, the political ambience of the country will be more tense and it will not be conducive for the government to function. As the tough posture of the BJP keeps mounting pressure on the Central government, the Congress too will keep hitting back BJP. In view of resistance from opposition parties along with lack of coordination between its alliances, the Central government may face more complexities in future.    

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on January 23, 2010 translated by the English Editorial)