Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam
The amount of money spent on a single day of Parliament is so huge that it boggles the mind of an average Indian. The BJP has been holding Parliament to ransom for a better part of the session, flushing the country’s huge financial resources down the drain. That is not fair to millions of tax payers, not a patriotic act.
The party is bad as ruler (how can you be good by being openly hostile to minorities, Dalits, tribals?) and worse in Opposition. It is frustrated and vengeful while in Opposition, which makes it irresponsible. It is not for the first time that it is behaving the way it is: earlier, too, it has blocked parliament for weeks.
This bully boy tactics is a bad precedence for the Opposition of future. Tomorrow, if a BJP-led coalition (and that’s a big “if”) comes to power and the Opposition is peeved at its perennially bad ways, then it will find a continuous precedence (laid by BJP-led NDA) of throwing tantrums, as a way of making its presence felt. That would be a sad day.
This party is supposedly outraged over direct allotment of coal blocks instead of auction. To begin with, direct allotment is not illegal nor is there any rule or precedence to force government not to allot and go by the auction route only.
Although the CAG has raised the issue of coal only, the Supreme Court’s stance is more comprehensive as it calls for auction of all natural resources with possibly fewer exceptions like water, in future. Even the SC has not asked for the cancellation of earlier allotments.
The government has initiated cancellation proceedings in case of more than two dozen earlier allotments, including seven allotments made by NDA government, on the ground that they have been sitting over coal blocks for last several years without starting to mine them. However, the Prime Minister has made it clear that there is no question of cancelling the present allocations. Direct allotments began in 1993, continued under NDA rule, were never stopped.
BJP’s moral outrage over the allocations is not genuine. A party whose government has looted the nation’s resources earlier without any qualms would not suddenly become morally sensitive. While the whole nation was scandalised at Karnataka’s then chief minister Yedurappa’s robbery of Bellary coal mines in collaboration with the Reddy brothers, BJP behaved as if nothing was happening. Yedurappa was dropped only when he became a liability for the party, not because of moral outrage.
Public memory is short, but not quite as short as BJP would like to imagine. Nobody has forgotten how during the NDA rule at Centre petrol pumps were allotted arbitrarily to BJP, RSS and VHP persons against all norms. This act of rewarding itself at the cost of the country brought it the name Bhartiya Janata Petrol Pump Party. The party was not morally outraged, nor its government. How can morality be an issue with the party whose earlier president was caught on camera accepting bribe?
There are two major reasons for the party’s noisy disruption of Parliament. It is a diversionary tactic to distract the nation’s attention from the failure of its Gujarat Laboratory experiment. The second is its wish to obtain coal block allotments to its chosen businessmen. Interestingly, Narendra Modi opposes auction, which BJP as a party supports. The reason: Some of Modi’s supporters are beneficiaries of direct allotment.
The party will gain nothing from putting its cause ahead of the national cause. Further obstruction of Parliament will only reinforce its negative image in the public. Parliament must be allowed to function, and government must be able to work. It must be kept in mind that the government has not been chosen by the BJP, but by the People of India. The will of the People must never be thwarted. g