Delhi High court’s order directing the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and along with the party’s vice president Rahul Gandhi in connection with National Herald case has seen continuous uproar and disruption in both houses of Indian parliament.
The BJP has been quick to blame the Congress for questioning the role of judiciary by causing disruption in another pillar of Indian democracy, the parliament.
Congress, for its part, has consistently denied this charge saying that its uproar in parliament has little to do with the judgement pronounced by the High Court and its agitation was to demand resignation of General VK Singh’s resignation from Narendra Modi’s cabinet for his dog remarks.
Whatever the truth, the current logjam in the parliament just after a court verdict against two senior most functionaries of the Congress party has come as a replay of what happened in 2011, although roles have now reversed.
Those who follow Indian politics would remember that in 2011, the BJP had intensified its protest in the parliament forcing parliament not to function after its current president Amit Shah was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The saffron party had suddenly hardened its stand on the GST bill, which Congress led UPA was keen to pass in the parliament.
The then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, had revealed how the BJP had explicitly told him that the party intensifying its protest and opposition against the GST Bill, was linked to the arrest of Shah.
When asked by television journalists about the hold up in economic reforms during the UPA’s second term in office, the Prime Minister said that the Opposition, by disrupting Parliament, was not cooperating with the government.
Flagging GST as an area Singh had said, “But the opposition parties, particularly BJP, has taken a hostile attitude and the reasons that have been given, frankly I cannot mention it in public. They say because you have taken some decision against a particular person who was a minister in Gujarat, we must reverse it (GST). I don’t want to add further.”
Shah was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. Despite being out on bail, Shah was asked by the Supreme Court to stay out of Gujarat.
Although Nitin Gadkari, now a senior member of Modi’s cabinet, had termed Singh’s revelation as ‘laughable,’ there is little denying the truth that till the arrest of Shah only Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were opposed to the introduction of GST.
Shah’s arrest prompted the other BJP-ruled states, including the likes of Bihar where NDA was in power, to join the anti-GST bandwagon.
Of course the GST is an important bill now, but so was it in 2011. Congress leaders particularly the then finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee (now President of India) had desperately tried to impress upon the opposition why the GST, the biggest tax reform that will result in a convergence in the rate of excise duties and service tax, needed to be passed.
Four years on, the tables have clearly turned with history being repeated. The BJP now desperately needs Congress to be on board but the the latter appears in no mood to relent particularly in the aftermath of the High Court’s ruling.
Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right, but the BJP clearly has lost its moral authority to lecture Congress for working ‘against the interests of the country.’ If indeed the Congress is acting irresponsibly now, it’s drawing inspiration from what the BJP did four years ago.
After all the tradition of disrupting parliament on utterly insignificant grounds was started by the BJP, which notoriously ensured that sessions after sessions were washed out.
Rifat Jawaid is the editor-in-chief of jantakareporter.com