Back at you

Rejecting Parliament is a self-defeating strategy. Does BJP think it is never coming back to power?

Written by The Indian Express | Published: August 29, 2012 3:49 am

The BJP may have a clear political calculus in staking everything on its campaign against the UPA’s coal block allotment. It may think that by escalating this issue,refusing to let Parliament function,it can destabilise this government and possibly bring about a convenient early election. Then what? If the BJP manages to form the next government,does it think that its opposition will hesitate to throw its playbook right back,once the political gains of parliamentary non-cooperation have been proved?

Of course,the Congress,always a sullen opposition,founded this technique. When the NDA was in power,the Congress refused to engage in Parliament over accusations that then-defence minister George Fernandes was involved in a coffin procurement scandal. They made a similar scene over the Tehelka tapes. However,it is the BJP that has truly perfected the tactic of opposition-by-obstruction,by shunning parliamentary debate and making vague calls for “accountability”. In 2010,after the 2G scam broke,the BJP’s insistence on a joint parliamentary committee to investigate the matter rather than the public accounts committee,and the government’s resistance to the idea,effectively ensured that two parliamentary sessions were non-starters. Critical legislation was put on ice,and debate was replaced with shallow point-scoring in television studios. Now,the monsoon session appears set to go the same way,with the BJP and the Congress only hardening their positions.

The BJP must realise that rejecting Parliament over any issue is a losing game,and will have disastrous consequences when it becomes an entrenched practice for the opposition party. It must remember that,after all,it will be far easier for non-BJP parties to gang up and organise a concerted resistance outside Parliament. The reasons for this kind of protest could be anything — corruption,communal harmony or national security — but it lets lungpower dominate,rather than rational argument. By undermining Parliament this way,the BJP could be inaugurating a dangerous precedent. This is not to undermine partisanship — indeed,conflict and competition drive politics. The BJP is right to raise hell over a government action it opposes,even when it is only for a political payoff. However,the place for relentless,ferocious opposition is Parliament.

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