New Delhi, Aug. 22: LoC heat over? Time to shovel more coal into the fire.
BJP sources said the main Opposition would continue to look for potential issues to raise in the Lok Sabha to block “game-changer” bills, explaining the party’s plans to highlight the UPA’s “policy paralysis” in the lead-up to 2014.
They said the target was the Lok Sabha, as all key legislation that could improve the “scam-tainted” government’s image ahead of next year’s elections were pending in Parliament’s lower House.
Apart from the food security and land acquisition bills, considered “game changers” by the Congress, crucial proposals for reforms in insurance and pension are to be taken up by the Lok Sabha. Only after they go through the lower House will the Rajya Sabha consider these bills.
The BJP fears that passage of these bills would brighten the Congress’s electoral stock at a time all-round gloom has engulfed the economy. “Why should we bail out the government? Running Parliament is the government’s responsibility. We, as the Opposition, will continue to corner them on issues,” said a BJP leader.
So the main Opposition party has been looking for excuses to stall these draft laws though it has declared support for the food and land bills and even the reforms proposals with certain amendments.
“We want the House to runů. But allowing the House to run does not mean we allow the government to do as it pleases. We do not raise important issues and remain silentů” Lok Sabha leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said, trying to justify stalling the House to press for a response from the Prime Minister over the disappearance of files related to the coal controversy.
When the government agreed and the impasse appeared to be over, Sushma raised the proposed suspension of protesting Andhra MPs. She said the BJP would walk out in protest, a move that could have helped the government, but changed her mind when almost the entire Opposition stood up against the proposal.
Result: the food bill could not be taken up as the House was adjourned for the day.
The BJP has had its way since Parliament convened earlier this month. If the killing of five soldiers on the Line of Control handed the party an issue at the start of the session, defence minister A.K. Antony’s initial statement that people in Pakistan Army uniform were involved heightened the standoff.
When it was over, the missing coal files came its way. In between, TDP and Congress MPs, agitating against Andhra’s proposed bifurcation, helped the BJP’s cause. Every time the food bill was taken up for discussion, BJP members rose in protest saying the House was not in order.