BJP spent considerable political capital on each of these, generating widespread opposition.
The 16th Lok Sabha, which in 2014 ushered in a new brand of aggressive politics for the victors led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ended on a deeply divided and fractious note on Wednesday, perfectly capturing the nation’s mood. The Rajya Sabha too adjourned sine die with the tabling of the CAG’s controversial report on the Rafale fighter deal, that generated heat – in keeping with the charged campaign of Congress president Rahul Gandhi across the country, alleging cronyism and corruption on the government’s part – and no light.
Not having the numbers in the Upper House, and unable anymore to attract short-term, issue-based allies, the government was obliged to let some of its most keenly favoured proposed laws – that had easily cleared the Lok Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA has a roadrolling majority – lapse. The three crucial bills to fall in this category are the ones on triple talaq, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, and the proposed Aadhaar law. The
BJP spent considerable political capital on each of these, generating widespread opposition. It’s a sign of the times that the entire Northeast was gripped in street protests as the government was compelled to let the bill on allowing religion-based citizenship, that is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution, fall by the wayside.
As the Budget Session of Parliament drew to a close, almost bringing down the curtain on Mr Modi’s five-year term, the Opposition parties were generating their own momentum in their third meet – this one in the nation’s capital and hosted by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal – to prepare for the coming Lok Sabha polls in which they aim to challenge the BJP and the Narendra Modi government.
Addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party on the last day of this Parliament, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi attacked the Modi government for using “intimidation” tactics against its political opponents. In a sense, this is the leitmotif of the campaign of the government’s opponents who have charged the PM with destroying the institutional backbone of Indian democracy for the purpose of achieving partisan objectives.
Although the BJP had won only 31 per cent of the popular vote in 2014, under Mr Modi’s leadership it took office in a blizzard of goodwill which gave it enormous institutional authority. The PM’s promise of “achche din”; “sabka saath, sabka vikas”; and his slogan of “cooperative federalism” were taken seriously and literally by most of the country. However, misguided events over the past five years that had unleashed social fragility, the adoption of unsettling economic policies, and a take-no-prisoners attitude towards political opponents while pursuing a specific ideological stance, led to considerable resentment. This was amply reflected on the last day of Parliament as we head for a fresh general election.