Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli on Friday. This was her first visit to her constituency after the Lok Sabha poll results
New Delhi, June 13: The Congress appears to be in a dilemma on the approach to adopt towards the Narendra Modi government, with many senior leaders extremely critical of those that want to pursue the role of “constructive Opposition” in contrast with the “brazen obstructionism” the BJP chose in the past 10 years.
These leaders believe the BJP should be paid back in its own coin and shown how destructive using Parliament as a political battlefield can be for national interest. Although the top leadership does not appear receptive to the idea, some key party functionaries have argued against extending unbiased cooperation to the government saying little significance is attached to positivity now.
A senior leader who is upset with the section advocating a “constructive approach” asked The Telegraph: “What was Modi rewarded for, positive approach towards the Congress and the Manmohan Singh government? Have we forgotten the 14th and the 15th Lok Sabha had been the worst victims of the BJP’s pique and its destructive mindset? Did they allow us to carry out our legislative agenda, including the goods & service tax (GST) that the Modi government is now proposing as a priority?”
Recalling how the BJP had not even allowed Manmohan Singh to introduce his ministers and speak on the motion of thanks to the President’s address in 2004, another leader said: “We must not allow Gen. V.K. Singh to go scot-free. If he is not sacked, the next session of Parliament should not be allowed to proceed like business as usual. The minimum the Opposition should do is to boycott him like it did with George Fernandes in the past.”
Most other leaders also advocate a tough line on the former army chief.
Party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said today: “It is unthinkable that a minister described our soldiers as dacoits. This is a very serious issue; even enemy countries haven’t spoken this language about the Indian Army. If action is not taken against the minister, the government will face consequences in Parliament.”
The moderates feel an apology by V.K. Singh should suffice but they are outnumbered.
The Congress has also lost no time in seeking the resignation of another minister Nihalchand, who has been summoned by a court in a rape case. Party spokesperson Shobha Oza said: “It is shameful that the BJP hasn’t acted against the minister. They gave this lofty slogan — Bahut hua naari pe atyachar/ Abki baar Modi sarkar — and are defending the minister embroiled in such a case when the country is grappling with a menacing rise in rape cases.”
The Congress is more retrained than the BJP was in Opposition but the widespread anger against party MP Shashi Tharoor, who has found “grace” in the new regime, reveals its mood.
Modi’s remark that parties can work for the nation’s development for four years and leave politics for the election year drew a sharp retort. “The country should not take such
comments lightly. Four years of development and the fifth year for politics; what kind of politics, of the Muzaffarnagar and Godhra brand? Politics that divides and creates conflicts?” Shakeel Ahmed said.
The hardliners in the Congress point out that the government is sending negative vibes on the question of Leader of Opposition and the different parliamentary committees, that Modi left out Jawaharlal Nehru’s name from the list of freedom fighters he reeled out in his first speech in Parliament and that attempts continue to negate the achievements of Congress regimes.
If they have their way, the government will not have an easy time in the Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority.