Rahul Gandhi’s 'suit-boot ki sarkar' jibe at the NDA government has taken a toll on reforms and he will have to also share the responsibility for derailing changes in the Land Acquisition Law and GST.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi needs to think beyond plain politics and show that he and his party are not anti-reform if they want to remain relevant. After Moody’s Analytics warning that lack of reform will impact India’s growth prospects, country’s top industrialists have now raised alarm on the Parliament logjam that threatens to scuttle the legislative changes required to improve the business environment.
Any discussion on the Land Acquisition Bill — even a completely diluted one as agreed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) now — will now be possible only in the winter session with the joint parliamentary committee forced to delay its report . The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill has been introduced in the Rajya Sabha but with the monsoon session slated to end today, only a miracle can get it passed in the upper house where it is stuck due to the NDA’s lack of majority after what happened in Parliament yesterday over the demand of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s resignation in Lalitgate.
The bitter exchange of barbs between Swaraj and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi reminded of the chaos in Parliament during the UPA regime over scams, which added to the policy paralysis. While the external affairs minister is obviously peeved at the way her help to Lalit Modi on what she calls ‘humanitarian ground’ has snowballed into a big controversy, the Congress party and especially the Congress vice-president must think whether stalling of Parliament and blocking reform bills is what they want in return, and is this going to help them politically?
Ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi had promised, to change the way the UPA government was functioning to end the policy paralysis, though in bits and pieces, including the directive to the Congress-ruled states to bring in reforms to allow the farmers to sell their produce to whoever they want, even at the cost of ruffling then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but the Congress party’s historic drubbing in the polls appears to have changed his mind.
Though the BJP is getting it back what it did when it was in the Opposition, the Congress vice-president needs to remember that Narendra Modi has been voted by the people to power because he promised to bring reform and growth. But, what has happened in the monsoon session, will give him the chance to tell people from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15, that the Congress party first created a situation which led to the slide in growth and now it is trying to stall any move which is directed to bring it back on track. It will also give the Prime Minister a chance to shield the NDA government’s failure in taking even the administrative measures to improve the business sentiment, including those in the tax domain and also foreign investment.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in Parliament yesterday that Rahul Gandhi is an expert without knowledge referring to the Lalitgate developments during the UPA regime. It doesn’t need an expert to find out that the NDA government has failed to deliver what it promised as yet on the policy or the growth front — it is difficult to understand why is the Congress party falling into the trap which makes it clear that it has also to share the blame for this.
If the Congress is not seen as correcting its mistakes of the past, any reversal in the party’s fortune will remain elusive — state after state and then the general election in 2014 have given enough indication that people vote for the party which appears to be best placed to change people’s living standard and ensure better facilities.
The Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would do well by understanding the message in the petition endorsed by thousands of people, as reported by The Indian Express, in this context. “Important laws which improve India’s growth rate are held up. GST has taken a long time in coming and has taken years of consensus building,” said the petition, and also pointed out, “Recent events have been disheartening. They have the potential of eroding popular faith in Parliament. Perpetual disruption can never be the rule”.
The winter session will be a big test for both the NDA government and also the Congress party in terms of finding a solution to end the Parliament logjam.