#BudgetSession: expect a lot of sound and fury, and little business
With the Parliament's budget session resuming Monday, the Narendra Modi regime is hopeful of pushing through the GST bill, bankruptcy law and other key pieces of legislation. Only, the opposition appears in no mood to play along.
In all likelihood, the 15-day session will be consumed by political slugfests, not least over the "brazen manner" in which the Modi government has been dealing with non-BJP state governments.
The Congress, in particular, will seek to take the Modi regime to task for dismissing its government in Uttarakhand. The Uttarakhand High Court's quashing of the President's Rule has given the party enough ammunition, no matter what the outcome of the challenge to the high court's ruling. The Supreme Court is expected to decide on the challenge on 27 April.
The Congress, in fact, has already given a noticed for a discussion on the issue on the first day of the session. The notice is for the motion that "this House deplores destabilisation of the democratically elected government in Uttarakhand and disapproves the unjustified imposition of President's Rule under Article 356 of the Constitution".
Ominously, the notice was submitted - by the party's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma on Thursday --- at about the same time that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was expressing hope for the "passage of bankruptcy law".
"We will raise this loud and clear. All parties are with us. Even the NDA ally Shiv Sena has criticised them for their intervention in states," said Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad.
He added, "How can a party which is using all kinds of undemocratic tricks to damage and destabilise state governments seek our support for its agenda in the House? Just consider the hypocrisy. The prime minister talks about cooperative federalism, but they are doing the exact opposite of what that."
State of unrest
It's not just about Uttarakhand either. The Congress has blamed the BJP for felling its government in Arunachal Pradesh early this year. The Nabam Tuki regime was ousted after the BJP legislators backed a no confidence motion brought by 20 dissident Congress MLAs. The Congress fears the BJP is now "playing the same game" in Manipur, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, the last remaining bastions of the Grand Old Party.
That most, if not all, regional parties feel strongly about the Centre trampling over the states is advantage Congress. Parties such as the JDU, AAP, CPI and CPM are set to join the Congress's attack. Many of them are also miffed with the Modi regime for "lack of cooperation" with and help for their respective state governments. Most recently, AAP has charged the BJP with "conspiring to cancel the membership of some AAP legislators" in a bid to destablise its government in Delhi.
The BJP is anticipating as much. In fact, some leaders are angry with the leadership for bringing this on the party. "Uttarakhand will vote for a new government in the next few months. They should have waited for the polls instead of giving the Congress an opportunity to play the victim and gain public sympathy," said a top BJP leader. "These interventions have only damaged the central government's reputation."
The protest by the Opposition will be more strident in the Rajya Sabha, where they are a majority. "Hitting the Congress and other parties in their bastions isn't going to score the Modi government any favours from them in the House. We have all the reason to be aggressive," said a Congress leader.
Edited by Mehraj D. Lone