Parliament has long since ceased to need an excuse not to function. The reconvened Budget session has augured particularly well for bedlam and disruption with 2G, Coalgate and other scams converging into a fresh nightmare for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the government. The baffling thing in all this is that the government and the Opposition have been over this track many times before. The 2012 monsoon session was washed out over allegations of corruption by the UPA regime in the allocation of the nation’s coal deposits. Instead of seizing the opportunity it had to skewer the government on the floor of the House, the Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted business insisting that Prime Minister Singh resign accepting moral responsibility for the scam. The drama looks set to be re-enacted in the current session with the government thick-skinned as always, and the BJP reverting to the beaten path of holding up business and asking for the Prime Minister’s resignation.
The material the BJP has is explosive enough: New revelations suggest interference by the Union law minister and the Prime Minister’s Office in the Central Bureau of Investigation’s status draft on the coal block allotments. In another bombshell, A. Raja, former Telecom Minister and main accused in the spectrum scam, has linked Dr. Singh to all key decisions made with regard to the 2G allocation. Yet neither the government nor the BJP has acted responsibly in the face of the serious charges. Sonia Gandhi’s response to the rising chorus for the Prime Minister’s resignation was “let them ask.” Presumably this insouciance stems from the assumption that the government will not be challenged where it counts: in the Lok Sabha where the numbers will be tested during the passage of the Finance Bill. Ms Gandhi should know that post the exit of the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the UPA government literally hangs by a thread. The BJP’s ultimatum to the Prime Minister makes no sense given its own unwillingness to rock the UPA’s boat. No chief executive will step down because the Opposition deems it a moral obligation. The plain truth is that the BJP has too many issues to thrash out, including its problems with allies over Narendra Modi, before it becomes battle-ready. At the start of the 15th Lok Sabha, Speaker Meira Kumar resolved to sit longer hours to conduct more business. The 2009 Budget session did accomplish that by putting in a record 104 per cent of working hours. The current Budget session has clocked only 63 per cent by comparison with a none-too-good prognosis for the month that remains before Parliament ends.