It will be a mistake to fritter away the critical gains made in Parliament in passing important reform legislations like the Real Estate and Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bills in the last one year due to the mishandling of the opposition’s questioning of demonetisation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must handle the situation in a manner that doesn’t disturb the momentum of legislative work.
It is a fact that black money is an emotive issue in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) top brass was always aware of this – even party stalwart Lal Krishna Advani tried to capitalize on this in the 2009 Lok Sabha election, though unsuccessfully.
Going by the closed door deliberations within the party and government top managers, there was a considerable unease on the promises made by the BJP star campaigner, PM Modi, during the 2014 Lok Sabha not getting fulfilled, since the completion of two years of the current NDA government in May.
The logical response to this had to be some strict action to show people that the government is taking big steps instead of the big announcements of the past two years – surgical strike and demonetisation can be seen as more of an outcome of this realization and less as a huge political will of the PM Modi government.
That cash, more than Rs 14 lakh crore in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, is a big contributor to terror funding and black money was always known and there can’t be a case for not fighting it, but should this be done at the cost of disturbing a large part of the business and growth (GDP growth is expected to fall to 5.5% from 7.2% in Oct-Dec quarter) in the country?
This is one question that PM Modi needs to answer and to that extent opposition parties are right in seeking his sincere indulgence.
Instead of running away from addressing the concerns raised in Parliament and creating havoc in people’s mind that the crusade against black money will not stop here and it will be taken to the benami property and bullion domain, he would do well by taking the opposition parties led by Congress into confidence — at least he should appear to be doing this – in devising ways to mitigate citizens’ problems due to the demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1000 notes.
By allowing the opposition parties to unite against the government on this issue, he is risking going back to the situation which had forced him to drop the amendments to the UPA Land Acquisition Act altogether.
In that case, the GST implementation will again get stuck and it will be difficult to pass any other reform Bills also considering the NDA’s lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha.
It will be sad to see PM Modi losing the momentum gained in passing critical reform Bills like the Real Estate and GST Bills in the last few sessions due to the mishandling of the opposition to demonetisation.