The Congress party didn’t listen to Dr Manmohan Singh, and is in tatters today - why is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to repeat similar mistake.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Facebook post in reaction to the former prime minister Manmohan Singh pointing out, in an interview, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not doing enough to reach out to the Congress party for carrying forward the economic reform, has ended up endorsing the views of the senior Congress party leader.
There is no doubt that the BJP-led NDA government could not understand the fact initially that just by getting a thumping majority in the Lok Sabha, it can’t manage the legislative business successfully in Parliament, and the support of Congress and other non-NDA parties would be critical to pass important reform legislations like the Land Bill amendments, the Goods and Services Tax, Real Estate Bill, or even the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
So, if former prime minister Manmohan Singh, with his vast experience in government, including 10 years as the country’s prime minister, suggested PM Modi to take Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi in confidence, he just performed his duty perfectly well to do whatever he could do to make sure that reform legislations are not stuck in Parliament.
Despite the fact that Congress party’s demand of putting a cap on the GST rate (to keep it below 18%) in the legislation itself is illogical; the BJP floor managers, including the PM have done little to improve the relationship with the party and create a conducive atmosphere for reaching an understanding – and statements on public platforms such as ‘one family (obviously referring to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi) has been scuttling reform Bills in the upper house to take revenge for its defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha election’, have only aggravated the situation.
After all, the NDA doesn’t have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, and it needs the support of the Congress and other parties there to get the Bills passed.
FM Jaitley will do well by understanding at some point of time the BJP will have to take the suggestion of Manmohan Singh to reach out to the opposition seriously, and sooner the party accepts it, the better – there can’t be a more constructive suggestion from a former PM than this in the current circumstances.
It is true that Singh’s own party didn’t listen to him on several issues during the UPA’s 10-year rule, especially in the selection of ministers and also handling of economic portfolios and policies, but it is also facing the consequences.
The BJP must learn from the Congress mistakes if it wants to avoid the same follies.
The current postures of PM Modi and FM Jaitley towards the Congress party clearly shows that they have little hope of any positive outcome in the Budget session starting from February 23, in terms of passing reform Bills.
Manmohan Singh, of course, can be criticized for failing to persuade Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to leave their rigid stance on the GST changes, but the primary responsibility of getting any legislation passed in Parliament is that of the ruling party.
The BJP top brass seems to be ignoring this at its own peril.