How Congress has mastered the art of disrupting Parliament
It is a concerted effort to put a lid on Modi government's efforts to initiate reforms.
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About four months ago during the last Parliament session, I had penned an article about disruption caused by the Congress which paralysed the legislative process, blocked reforms and wasted taxpayers' money, causing the country to pay huge social and economic costs.
One would have thought that after the all-round criticism about a disastrous monsoon session of Parliament, there would be some sanity which would be restored, but this winter session has shown that the only thing that has improved in Delhi is the weather.
In this session, disruption was high on the Congress' agenda. Indeed, it was a case of desperately looking for reasons to justify the disruptions — from rising intolerance to the National Herald issue to the regime change in Arunachal Pradesh. Disruption was clearly the endgame in the party’s mind, the reasons were irrelevant.
The almost hysterical rhetoric about intolerance seems to just have disappeared with even the scheduled debate on this in the Rajya Sabha becoming victim to the Congress-led disruption. Imagine the irony of this — a party screaming about intolerance avoiding a debate on the issue by disrupting Parliament.
So all this has made things clear about the fate of this session. Coming as it did on the back of the JD(U)-RJD coalition’s big victory in Bihar, the Congress had two political motives — one was for it to try and assert its political strength to shore up its declining political relevance ahead of the ensuing Kerala and Assam elections; and the other, in my opinion, was the need to try and derail the Modi government’s economic and reform momentum.
While the first is, in some ways, understandable for a political party desperately trying to remain relevant, the second is an unforgivable one because of what it does to the country and its economy. It has been evident that our economy is set for a major takeoff after the last many years of economic and governance decline — reversing the many years of weak investor confidence and scams which robbed the country to the tune of billions of rupees.
Blocking Parliament seems like a concerted effort to put a lid on the government's efforts to initiate reforms and bring about transparency in governance, and avoid the uncomfortable questions about corruption cases like the one linked with the National Herald.
The damage to India’s economy by delaying the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rollout is significant and real. Given that GST is expected to boost GDP by 1-2 per cent in the short term and, in turn, improve the competitiveness of small and medium industries all over the country, the biggest losers are real businesses and those who work for them.
This phenomenon was recently seen in Malaysia which enacted the GST from April this year. It is clear that the strategy of the Congress seems to be to deny the economy and the country the growth from the GST before 2019 — the next Lok Sabha elections.
Otherwise, why would a party stall a reform whose process was initiated during its regime? The legislative agenda drawn up for this winter session was crucial for realising the country’s need for reforms. Pivotal legislations listed included the Whistle Blowers Bill, the Prevention of Corruption Amendment Act, the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Bill, the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill and the all-important GST Bill.
Two of these legislations, namely the Real Estate and the GST Bills, would have had a direct impact on our economy and the consumers. The stage is set for India to project itself as an economy that will catalyse the global economy.
In Asia, most big economies are struggling — Japan is plunging back to recession with shrinking GDP, low wage growth and debt of 250 per cent of its GDP. The recent volatility in the Chinese stock market has raised doubts about the sustainability of the Chinese economic model.
Dwindling oil prices, though having positive effects on our fiscal deficit, is also becoming a major reason for an economic slowdown for countries like South Korea for whom refined petroleum products form a major source of exports.
As Europe melts down and China pulls through a painful economic reset, there is considerable focus on India among foreign investors who are seeking an alternative investment destination. Big-ticket investments are sitting on the sidelines citing the prevailing policy uncertainty in India.
Instead of charging forward to meet our economic and transformation promise, the country is being held back by these repeated acts of political pettiness. When political pettiness comes from old-style politicians, it is more understandable.
But when it is from so-called young leaders, it’s inexplicable and unforgivable. The mandate of the 2014 elections from the people of India was loud and clear. They wanted change — change in the way their government functions and, of course, their economic future.
Legislations are important to achieve this transformation, and disruption of Parliament is a visible, deliberate and unforgivable effort by some to subvert this transformation that the people of India have sought and continue to seek.