High on fumes

BJP errs in thinking it can get by with providing fireworks on corruption,instead of answers

Written by The Indian Express | Published: September 8, 2012 1:02:00 am

As the wasted monsoon session drew to an end,the BJP tried to deflect blame for the loss of parliamentary time,in terms of precious hours lost,as well as the larger cost of withholding critical legislation. It claimed that this stand would be vindicated when its protest over coal allocation results in tangible gain,and that it will now take the campaign to the streets. The BJP has every right to attack and oppose the government when it has a genuine contention — but Parliament is the primary arena for this combat.

Instead of bringing the matter of coal block allocations for debate in the House and exposing the government’s allegedly suspect decision-making,the BJP emphatically shunned that route — it held up legislative functioning,shouted down any attempt at communication. It wanted nothing less than the prime minister’s resignation. It asks for the de-allocation of all coal blocks recently assigned — an untenable proposition,because of the industrial projects that depend on the decision and the uncertainty it would induce,not to mention the arbitrariness of choosing a cut-off date for these allotments and penalising above-board firms. The BJP knows that this is the maximalist version of recompense to seek,but refuses to dilute its demands. It claims that only relentless pressure yields results,pointing to the 2G scandal as an example. And yet,there were at least three sustained parliamentary discussions on 2G,which helped bring into the public domain a more fine-grained understanding of what dodgy decisions were taken,and who benefited. In this case,the BJP has simply raised a furore without providing any proof or argument in the House. It has refused to engage. And now,it threatens to extend this campaign to the streets,carried aloft by a presumed popular rage against corruption.

The BJP may be miscalculating here. Yes,corruption is one of the most resonant issues now in a nation sick of seeing crony networks blunt the promise of reform. However,the BJP has not offered any real solutions towards cleaner,more transparent economic decisions. Like the Anna Hazare movement is discovering,merely giving voice to the people’s anger may not be enough for long-lasting political gains. The BJP is merely providing fireworks,not answers.

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