Lalit Modi Scandal Causing Mayhem In Parliament

It is unfortunate that there is so much of bad blood between the two principal parties –the BJP and the Congress —in the current Parliament. With a fresh session of Parliament looming large over the horizon, there is apprehension that it would be a virtual washout with the Congress flexing its muscles over revelations about External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s longtime family ties with fugitive Lalit Modi, founder and sacked-commissioner of the Indian Premier League – Indian cricket’s runaway success story.

Congressmen are baying for the resignation of both senior BJP politicians in an effort to win some brownie points while the BJP top brass and its ideological mentor, the RSS, are hell bent to deny this victory to the Opposition.

Outspoken BJP MP Kirti Azad has fired a salvo that could singe the BJP and the Congress alike. His demand that the BCCI be brought within the ambit of a probe in addition to probing Lalit Modi, if it gathers momentum, could drive a hole in the credibility of Arun Jaitley, Rajeev Shukla, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sharad Pawar and a host of other politicians connected with cricket in its controversial phase of match-fixing and misappropriation of funds.

There would presumably be efforts by vested interests to prevent such a probe and the Congress would be wary if it sees its own men getting engulfed in murky exposes.

Coming back to Parliament, there is complete absence of a desire on the part of both the ruling dispensation as well as the opposition, to extend a hand of friendship to the other. Healthy conventions have been thrown to the winds. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no qualms about mocking at the Congress while he is on official visits abroad, his visits evoke mockery and ridicule from Congress leaders even before he sets foot back in India.

These are no longer the days of Piloo Mody or of Atal Behari Vajpayee who regaled the Parliament with their witty interjections which would make many among the members smile even though they were digs at them. These are also indeed not the days of chief ministers like Rajasthan’s Mohanlal Sukhadia who took good care of his rivals and fraternised with opposition leaders as though they were their own.Instead, these are the days of bitter rivalries and cutthroat-ism as between M. Karunanidhi and J. Jayalalithaa or Mulayam Singh Yadav versus Mayawati or even between Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra and Chandrashekhar Reddy, his counterpart in Telangana.

In the current Parliament, there is little love lost between the ministers of the erstwhile Congress government and those of the NDA regime, barring exceptions. Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi does exchange pleasantries with a few leaders of the BJP but with the acrimony between them increasing, there is no knowing how long these would continue.

If the Manmohan Singh government was blamed for policy paralysis which made it an object of derision, it was in no small part due to the obstructionist attitude of the BJP opposition then. Now, the Congress is paying the BJP in the same coin and there are no marks for guessing who the sufferer is. It is the country which is the victim of derailed programmes, unfulfilled promises and procrastination.

Dr Singh’s later years in power were characterized by bureaucratic sloth, corruption and lack of control. Prime Minister Modi is far more decisive but he is put in the dock for being authoritarian. It is an enigma as to what the people, especially the middle class, want from their leaders.BJP veteran L. K. Advani recently disturbed a hornet’s nest when he hinted in a newspaper interview that the country faces the danger of returning to the days of the Emergency. This was evidently a subtle dig at Narendra Modi’s authoritarian tendencies but when the media deciphered the statement’s inner meaning, he developed cold feet and gave a new meaning to his controversial words for public consumption.

Now, a former general secretary of the party, Sunil Joshi, has come out in the open against the Prime Minister.

In the Manmohan Singh days, towards the last couple of years of his decade-long rule, the government stood so thoroughly discredited with a surfeit of scams that ministers like A. Raja, Shashi Tharoor, Pawan Bansal fell like ninepins when the Opposition mounted attacks on them in Parliament.

Narendra Modi has just begun his second year in office and is in a defiant mood when confronted by demands in Parliament for the resignation or sacking of Sushma Swaraj as Union External Affairs Minister over the close familial ties she shared with former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi who is today a fugitive from law, ensconced in London. But the Congress is unrelenting in its demand for her ouster and the BJP may well have to forget about passing various Bills in the Rajya Sabha where the Opposition outnumbers the Treasury benches. It would indeed depend upon whether the fear of its own sports-related officials being exposed would drill fear into them of being caught on the wrong foot or not.

The postponement of crucial Bills in Parliament may serve the short-term designs of the Opposition but is national interest of no consequence for our leaders and parties? Economic reforms are at a standstill while Parliament is stalled but no one seems to care. It’s time that the leaders of the NDA and the UPA sit down together to deliberate on re-defining ground rules for the smooth conduct of parliamentary proceedings in national interest. Since the mandate of the people is clearly in favour of the NDA, the Congress must learn not to pick holes in whatever the BJP does. On its part the BJP must be conciliatory and non-abrasive.

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