The Telegraph
Tuesday , February 4 , 2014
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BJP lobs back disruption ball

New Delhi, Feb. 3: The BJP has decided not to go out of its way to help the government pass the listed bills and yet try not to come across as overly confrontational.

So, amid Congress fears that the BJP would use disruption as a tool to block the key statehood and anti-graft bills, the main Opposition has lobbed the ball back saying it is ready to cooperate if the government can ensure the House functions.

At the same time, it has expressed doubts on the government’s ability to control Parliament while indicating that a key source of possible disruption are the Congress’s own Seemandhra lawmakers.

Lok Sabha Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj’s media statements and tweets summed up her party’s approach.

She reportedly told an all-party meeting today that the 39 bills lined up for passage “look like your leader’s (Rahul Gandhi’s) agenda and the Congress’s election programme”.

“Why then should we follow your leader’s wishes?” she asked, according to sources.

After the meeting, Sushma told the media the BJP had no issues with helping pass the bills provided the House was “allowed to function by the Congress and its allies”.

“The last two sessions were sacrificed to chaos over Telangana. If the government can assure us that the House will function peacefully, we have no problems in passing the anti-corruption and other bills,” she said.

Sushma also tweeted her doubts over Parliament’s ability to function. “The problem is that it is a lame duck government,” she posted.

“Neither their (the UPA’s) allies nor their CM (Andhra’s Kiran Kumar Reddy), not even members, nobody listens to them. That is the reason (the) government could not ensure smooth functioning of Parliament in the last two sessions.”

On Telangana, though, the BJP is in a bind. While stressing that it remains as committed to the creation of the new state as it was in 1997, the party has factored in three new circumstances.

One, the Telugu Desam Party, a potential ally in Seemandhra, is impressing on the BJP to “somehow” defer endorsing the Telangana bill.

Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu called on BJP president Rajnath Singh suddenly this morning after first tipping off the media, which gathered outside Rajnath’s home in full strength before Naidu’s arrival.

It seems Rajnath was taken aback when Naidu came in but heard him out. Sources said Naidu’s case was that if the BJP stopped the bill’s passage, it could have the “best of both worlds” in the Lok Sabha polls: do well in Seemandhra and get the Telangana Rashtra Samiti on its side in Telangana and pick up seats there as well.

Two, the BJP’s Seemandhra representatives have proposed amendments to the bill to ensure a package deal for their region as well.

Third, the BJP would rather pass the bill itself — if elected to power this year —rather than let the Congress do it now.

One of the BJP’s agendas is to press for a discussion on the VVIP chopper deal that it believes contains the seeds of a Bofors-like scam that could embarrass Sonia Gandhi.