Will NDA dampen fireworks in monsoon session?

The Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning tomorrow is likely to be  significant in many ways than in the past. Major alliances firmed up with one  led by the Congress and the other by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). With the elections around the corner, how these newly-formed alliance partners are going to coordinate or behave in the monsoon session is what makes it more interesting. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) may spring a surprise by introducing some of the critical Bills. They include the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) as well as the Delhi Ordinance, which is now being challenged in the Supreme Court by the aggrieved Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government. As per the Centre’s ordinance, the ‘National Capital Civil Services Authority’ will be established, consisting of the Delhi chief minister, chief secretary, and home secretary of the Delhi Government. This seized the power of the elected AAP government in Delhi, losing control over the government servants’ postings and transfers. How far the apex court is going to view, one has to see. That too after the NDA government successfully introduces it in both Houses of Parliament and ensures its smooth passage to become a law.

Although the AAP might have got some solace when Congress has assured the party to oppose the Bill, it is well aware that it was not stoppable. The NDA enjoys the numbers in both Houses of Parliament that are required and hence it appears unperturbed. If the BJP enjoys the brute majority in the Lok Sabha with more than 350, including its new allies, then in the Rajya Sabha it has close to 100 of the 237 of the current strength and with its allies as well as fence sitters and the indirect support from Biju Janata Dal (BJD) led by Naveen Patnaik or the YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party or Nara Chandrababu Naidu-led deflated Telugu Desam Party (TDP), are bound to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA happy. Added to that the emerging alliances were also indulged in as usual the psychological games. And it was begun by the Congress-led Opposition, which feels it can defeat the NDA, and swelled its allies from 17 to 26 for the second meeting in Bengaluru.

And the BJP, which is known to be in ‘election mode’ around the year, was quick to chalk out a counter-strategy to win over the numbers game. That led the BJP chief JP Nadda to quickly stitch the alliance of 38 parties, some of which might not have any representation in either of the Houses of Parliament, but adequate to win the number game of parties. Interestingly, the BJP has also succeeded in overshadowing its alliance meeting with the Opposition’s  Bengaluru meeting. The NDA could simply do this because it  has more charismatic, credible and popular leaders like Modi in its ranks. And his punches-filled 45-minute-long speech addressing the NDA allies at a star hotel organized hurriedly in the national capital also appears to be a big hit. Modi, while terming the Opposition as ‘opportunistic’, reiterated that his party is more constructive to take the country to new horizons. And he justified it too by citing several initiatives which ensured India diplomatically, economically as well as militarily, as an emerging force globally, and even the superpowers like the US, Russia, UK, France, and other countries making a beeline make friends with the country. He also proudly boasts that these superpowers too are well aware that NDA’s return to power in 2024 is certain and the entire Opposition’s decimation in national politics, especially of Congress. Modi also declared that the 2024 battle will be fought on ‘corruption’ knowing well that many leaders in the Opposition  are facing serious money laundering and other criminal charges. They include Sonia and Rahul  Gandhi,  Mamata Banerjee, MK Stalin and Lalu Prasad Yadav.

On the other hand, the Congress-led alliance, which has renamed its United Progressive Alliance to India National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (I.N.D.I.A), has no agenda and also able to project any single leader, who can match the ‘aura’ of Modi or challenge him. Understandably for obvious reasons, these parties indeed have serious differences at the state level and this was evident from the recent incidents in West Bengal during Panchayat polls. There is a total mismatch between the Congress’ local and central leadership. One wonders how far these differences are likely to pan out at the time of the Lok Sabha polls, as the deep wounds inflicted by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on its ‘allies’ , like the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), will heal. The TMC bagged 22 out of 42 Lok Sabha seats, while the BJP managed 18, creating a record of sorts for the first time in the state history in the 2019 general elections. That being the case, one wishes to ponder whether Mamata will opt to give her allies these 18 seats in the Lok Sabha polls,  hampering her party’s interests in national politics? Similarly, will the other regional parties like the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh do the same, despite their experiment of ‘the do UP Ladke’ in the past? Both Mamata and Akhilesh Yadav indeed ruled out accommodating the Congress. And, that’s the ‘difference’ between the major allies who with their numbers are trying to hoodwink the leftovers like the Janata Dal-S in Karnataka or Bharat Rashtra Samiti in Telangana, knowing well that such ‘psychic’ games don’t work either on  Naveen Patnaik in Odisha or Jaganmohan in Andhra Pradesh.

Knowing these hard facts pretty well, the new I.N.D.I.A. allies are as usual likely to create ruckus by raising issues like the unending violence in Manipur or the spiralling prices of essentials and ever-increasing unemployment rate in the country. On the other hand, NDA appears to be more than confident to get the nod of the Delhi Ordinance as well as the UCC, if it is so desirous to introduce it. As far as numbers are concerned, the NDA allies look stronger and united than the warring I.N.D.I.A. though it feels the gullible electorate can be swayed by their country’s name as their identity. Yes, forgiving and forgetting the statements made by these Opposition leaders against the Army chief calling him ‘sadak ka goonda’ or raising doubts over Indian forces’ daring operations to silence Pakistan as never before or taming China after two skirmishes, especially at Galwan, where it inflicted more casualties on the enemies. This apart, they have also undermined their country’s bilateral interests by endorsing the acts of the two well-known enemies on the borders – Pakistan on the west and China on the East.

And all these factors are likely to be used by the NDA allies to pin down the Congress-led I.N.D.I.A. in both the Houses of Parliament for sure! How the conglomeration of the new group using its nation’s name, which too was given by the colonial Britishers, can face the rejuvenated 38 or 40-party strong NDA (this in the wake of JDS and TDP, besides Shiromani Akali Dal are set to join it sooner than later) in the Parliament and defend it from expected humiliation, which is on the cards. Meanwhile, some TV reports claim that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who was instrumental in taking the initiative to bring Opposition parties together, is unhappy with the group’s name!