The opening day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament may have been a washout, with the Congress-Left combine, backed by the Samajwadi Party, blocking the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha. But it did not weaken the Modi government’s determination to stand its ground. The government continued to refuse to consider seeking resignations from its Ministers and Chief Ministers involved in cases of impropriety or corruption.
Instead, the BJP’s strategy, as it emerged through the day was three-fold: one, it went on the offensive against the Congress. It said the Congress was shying away from a discussion on the floor of Parliament because cases of corruption involving party members would also come up, while insisting that discussing what was happening in the States in Parliament would be a violation of both tradition and rules.
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked the Congress for demanding the resignations of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, saying if discussion on State issues is allowed, then land deals by Robert Vadra, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, and the CBI’s investigation against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh could also be discussed.
Two, at a personal level, BJP Ministers were seen trying to engage Opposition leaders on the floor of the Rajya Sabha in a friendly way, after the House was adjourned. Three, the BJP is making a conscious effort to keep its NDA allies, the Shiv Sena, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Telugu Desam Party, the Lok Jan Shakti Party and others, in good humour.Prime Minister inconciliatory mood
On Monday night, at a meeting of NDA allies called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it became clear that he was prepared to be conciliatory. When Shiv Sena representatives pointed out that in the past, the NDA convener had always been a leader from a non-BJP party, he listened quietly. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu apparently said at the meeting that he would ensure that there would be many more meetings of NDA allies. The allies may wish to extract something later from the BJP, but on Tuesday, they were seen solidly backing the government, greeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, whose resignation is being demanded, warmly in the Lok Sabha in a show of solidarity. Several BJP members, as well as those of the Shiv Sena, were seen going across to Ms. Swaraj, some even touching her feet before the House met on the first day of the monsoon session.Meanwhile, a day after the Prime Minister praised the Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav in his speech at an all-party meeting, quoting his suggestion for the need for collective functioning in Parliament, the SP joined the Congress and Left Parties in obstructing the Rajya Sabha.
Earlier in the day, before Parliament’s 21-day session began, the Prime Minister told journalists that he was “hopeful of a constructive meeting” and was counting on the Opposition’s support to clear urgent reforms.