Instead of finding faults with the Congress party, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley need to focus on garnering support from the non-NDA parties to push critical reform legislations, including the goods and services tax (GST) and labour law changes, to ensure sustained 8-9% GDP growth.
The assembly election results of the four major states — Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala – have rejuvenated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led NDA government.
Thanks to the BJP victory in Assam, and Congress getting reduced to leading just 6 states now, of which only Karnataka is among the major states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley are appearing quite upbeat on pushing pending reforms.
But, both must remember that too much of Congress bashing has not helped the NDA government’s cause in the past, and this may prove counterproductive even in future.
The better idea would be to focus on building strong bridges with parties like the TMC, AIADMK, BJD and even SP and BSP, though upcoming assembly elections in UP makes it a difficult proposition, to corner Congress in Parliament.
There is no point in making statements like this one, made by FM Jaitley in his blog post today: “The Congress is, today, threatened with being pushed increasingly to the margins. Will it be the main challenger to the BJP led NDA in 2019, or will it stand behind a hotchpotch combination of ideologically disparate regional groups? What is the nature of ‘surgery’ the party leaders are now talking about? Will the Congress evolve into a structured party with a galaxy of leaders or will it remain a dynastic party?”
Instead of asking these questions, he must focus now on capitalising the support offered by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to push the goods and services tax (GST) Bill and also other reform Bills in Parliament in the monsoon session.
PM Modi has succeeded in covering the losses in terms of Parliamentary business in the initial phase of the NDA government due to unnecessary disruptions by ensuring the passage of the Bankruptcy and Real Estate Bills among 22 others in the last session, taking the total to 90 bills in the last two years.
There is a need to build on this success and not derail it by high-handed statements in or outside Parliament as the government still has to cross the Parliamentary hurdles in the case of critical labour and land reforms, besides the GST.
The Congress still can stop the passage of reform Bills in Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, including the GST Bill, in which the party has demanded the rate to be kept below 18% in the legislation itself.
Why force it to do that, and others to join its camp.
If the strategic alliance with the AGP and BPF, is behind the BJP’s success in Assam, why can’t the Congress learn from its mistake and start working more closely with the regional parties to improve its situation in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?
The BJP, therefore, will do well by not giving this space to the party by focusing on building its own alliances in the next three years ahead of the 2019 battle.
This will also help PM Modi in improving his track record further on pushing reforms.