Opposition sets stage to lock down Winter Session of Parliament?



Even as this question is being debated in the corridors of power in view of two meetings of Sonia Gandhi with President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue of alleged rise in intolerance, it is safe to proceed on the assumption that the disruptive tactics of the old ruling party will be determined by the outcome of the Bihar Assembly elections. If the Grand Alliance of Congress, RJD and JD(U) wins, the party will be emboldened to lock down Parliament. In case the Grand Alliance loses and the NDA wins, the party’s morale will be low. But that may not prevent it from disrupting parliament. This scenario may hold even in case of a hung Assembly.

How will the ruling NDA act to counter disruptions? Going by what it did during the Monsoon Session, it is clear it has limited choices. First, it can allow the Congress Party go ahead, disrupt Parliament and defame itself. Second, it can talk the party into a deal. The latter option looks remote and does not fit into the style of functioning of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And yet it looks feasible because Modi’s is a evolving personality and he is excellent on uptake. A hint to this effect was on display during the recent Afica-India summit, where both Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were invited, though, strictly in terms of protocol, it was not required. This was the first occasion when Modi showed his ability to follow in the footsteps of Atal Behari Vajpayee, who, during his term as PM, showed great penchant to carry everyone along. One may argue that Vajpayee was compelled to follow this policy in view of personal reasons as well as the complexity of carrying along different alliance partners, whereas Modi has no such compulsion. But this may be only partly true; the reality is the NDA government does not have the numbers in the Rajya Sabha and hence it is almost as much under compulsion as its earlier avatar faced.

Much more than before, the PM has to lean on consensual politics to further his administration’s economic agenda. If the big ticket reform planned through GST has to take shape from April 1, 2016, NaMo has to thrash out a working relationship with non-NDA parties. Besides GST, the bills on taxation and labour reforms as well as amendment to bankruptcy laws are to be tabled in Parliament during the Winter Session. Their passage would definitely require the support of the opposition. And on their approval, among other things, depends Modi’s grand plan to turn India into the best investment destination by improving the ease of doing business and adding to the value of Brand India.

Report: M K Shukla (Editor)

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