Demonetisation: Is BJP-Opposition clash in Parliament stage-managed?
The TV channels have been hammering all day long: Lok Sabha adjourned, Rajya Sabha adjourned over Opposition ruckus following the demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. But the queues outside banks have stayed as long as they were yesterday or even the day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement that the government will classify such notes as illegal tender.
The queues have been here all this while since the night of November 8 but has there been a protest or barricade storming by the venerable opposition parties of India? No. Why? Because they cannot come out so violently against the self-styled campaign of the Modi government to target “terror financing and the black money”. Like the “foreign hand”, black money has been a comfortable excuse to hold up Parliament by many parties, including the BJP when it wasn’t ruling. Any move against the self-styled campaign against black money and terror financing will invite the troll army that preys on “anti-nationals”.
Given this situation, the Opposition ruckus in Parliament was nothing more than stage-managed choreography, without the dance of course, for the TV cameras of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and the gullible people who thought that their MPs were taking the government to task for the inconvenience they have been put in. Though the Opposition did demand a debate under a parliamentary provision that entails voting, which was not acceptable to the government. Lest its own members vote against the radical yet not-thought-through decision.
But black money and politics go a long way. Remember Ashok Khemka from a few years ago? The IAS officer who kept getting transferred for his honesty, especially after he charged irregularities in deals involving Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.
The Congress has its history with black money; that’s why when black money was cited as the target and the reference to the 2G and coal scams were made, the party fell silent yesterday on the first day of the Winter Session. It is easier in politics for the politician to understand other politicians than the anger or the frustration of the people. The Congress and the Opposition must have arranged the setting up of an adjournment-like situation with a nudge and a wink at the ruling NDA when they left for the day yesterday.
Nor has the Congress taken the BJP to task over corporates getting away with murder, like Vijay Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines’ non-performing loan of Rs 1200 crore was moved by SBI into a waive account, and drew Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s awry defence saying an accounting waive-off is not a waive off while it is nothing else but that.
Let’s turn our attention to the protests. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan with other Opposition leaders, including the Shiv Sena but without the Congress and the CPI(M). Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal absented himself because of the Shiv Sena presence. But today, Mamata and Kejriwal went hammer and tongs at the government over the demonetisation.
Let’s look at the Trinamool Congress and its anti-corruption cred. The party’ MPs have been stung in a NaradaNews.com expose on March 14 this year where at least a dozen top Trinamool leaders openly accepted cash from reporters who conducted the sting. MPs Mukul Roy, Saugata Roy, Sultan Ahmed, Suvendu Adhikari, Prasun Banerjee and Kakali Ghosh Dastidar took the money. The parliamentary ethics committee headed by BJP margdarshak LK Advani is yet to act on the sting on whether action should be taken against the MPs seen taking money. Though the Left had raised it several times in the House, the BJP is not pushing for a fast resolution since it allegedly gives the saffron party a handle on the Trinamool Congress which is turned whenever leverage is required for the ruling BJP.
Similarly, some Trinamool ministers have also been jailed in the Saradha chit fund scam into which the NaradaNews.com investigation was probing.
Congress leader P. Chidambaram who has been criticizing the government also has his family members involved in ED investigations. His wife Nalini is named in the Saradha case while son Karti Chidambaram is being investigated in a Rs 140 crore scam by the Enforcement Directorate. Which pure politician will cast the first stone?
The arrangement in Parliament is to show an Opposition holding up the Houses over something which is affecting the people at such a massive level. But is the government going to do anything like a roll back? No, not so soon. Nor is the Opposition being visceral enough. Look at hoarse-voice expert Arvind Kejriwal, ever since he defended the entry of Digambar Jain monk Tarun Sagar into Haryana Assembly. Sagar, nude as all Digambar monks are, was seated above the elected members of the House, the Speaker, the Chief Minister et al. Though liberals bayed for the Haryana government’s blood, Kejriwal defended Sagar saying he was a revered saint and should be respected. Even the vociferous Aam Aadmi Party musician-activist Vishal Dadlani did a super verbal somersault and apologised for his “liberal” remark once his party supremo had ended up supporting the Jain monk, nude though he was.
It is to make up face after the Jain episode that Kejriwal is taking the battle to the BJP. The fact that the demonetisation occurred is secondary, Kejriwal got an opportunity to come out as the aggressive questioner again, repairing the Jain monk damage to his image.
Given the common man’s misery outside banks, in queues, in hospitals unwilling to take old notes to save lives, in the death of near and dear ones who have died in shock at the decision, don’t the people of India deserve an Opposition that takes the government to task instead of fooling the people by stage-managing their appearance in Parliament on TV? Nor has the Opposition come out in condemning the demonetisation due to to the anti-black money caveat.
Most Indians call Pakistan a tinderbox waiting to explode, but it is India which is one waiting for the right match because the Opposition is unable to represent the agony of the poor and the middle classes to the government.
PS: Demonetisation is anti-constitutional since it denies the right of a citizen to access her or his money without standing in a queue. Inconvenience is the new anti-national.