Stoop to conquer

Most reluctantly, the government did come to terms with the stark reality. This Congress Party under Rahul Gandhi is determined to obstruct its functioning. Period. Come what may, the Gandhi scion is hell-bent on making governance difficult for the NDA. Otherwise, was there any reason for not proroguing the Parliament so long after the end of the monsoon session? Clearly, the government had hoped against hope that it could do business with the Gandhi scion who is the de facto boss of the Congress party. It was relying on somehow good sense dawning on the Family Firm and it cooperating in the passage of the GST Bill in the Rajya Sabha. But when it became clear that the Gandhis are not willing to help pass a forward-looking measure which has the potential to add up to two percent to the GDP, it reluctantly prorogued the parliament two days ago. The two Houses were only adjourned sine die last month in the expectation that these could reconvene again to pass the GST Bill. Strangely enough, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu still talks of advancing the winter session in case there is consensus on passing the progressive tax measure.  Naidu has clearly failed to come to terms with the cussedness of the Gandhis. They have not reconciled to the loss of power fifteen months after the people rejected them. And they will not come to terms with the loss of power sixty months after their rejection by the people. Therefore, the Government would be well advised to devise a strategy for governance which fully takes into account the obstructionism and hostility of the Gandhis. We deliberately stress on the Gandhis rather than the Congress Party for the simple reason that there is no difference between the two. Everyone else in the Congress Party counts for zilch other than the mother-and-son duo. For proof, consider their conduct vis-à-vis the GST Bill. It was all along claimed that the party would have no problem supporting its passage provided the NDA Government agreed on a few changes. When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley publicly expressed his willingness to take the Congress viewpoint on board in framing the GST Bill, the Congress leadership baulked. Now, the party leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad was made to revive the same-old tune about the resignations of Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the chief ministers of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh respectively.  What has changed between the monsoon session and now was the question Azad actually asked to reject the suggestion that the party would help in passing the GST Bill. In fact, newspaper reports quoted unnamed Congress underlings to suggest that the same disruptionist tactics would be used by them as and when the Parliament reconvened next. In short, the Gandhis are unwilling to listen to reason.

Therefore, it is the duty of the Modi Government to devise a mechanism that good governance is possible in spite of the willful obstructionism of the Congress Party. It should reach out to other parties represented in the Parliament and seek their cooperation so that urgent legislative Bills are passed. That the Congress leadership courts further irrelevance by persisting with its unthinking hostility towards the Government might in the end concern itself, but those with the popular mandate owe it to the people to press ahead with good governance. All said and done, most politicians are not seized by a death-wish and would like to cooperate with the government — and like to be seen doing so in the larger interest of the people. GST is one big pro-people measure. If the government can enlist the support of all major and minor parties represented in the Rajya Sabha, it can call the bluff of the Gandhis.  Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and even Jayalalithaa might come on board should the government tweak the Bill a wee-bit to meet their concerns. Instead of insisting on a perfect Bill, let the government make a forward movement on an imperfect yet progressive Bill and wait for early 2018, when it is expected to command majority in the Rajya Sabha, for a perfect GST. Besides, getting the GST Bill through the Rajya Sabha

in spite of the bitter opposition of the Congress would show it up for what it is, that is, bad losers unwilling to come to terms with the verdict of the 2014  poll.

The passage of the GST Bill is a litmus test for the NDA leadership. It should stoop to conquer in the larger national interest.

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