PM pulls a ‘fast’ one, but will media call his bluff?

The Prime Minister, his cabinet colleagues and NDA MPs are due to observe the charade of a day long fast on Thursday to expose the Opposition which, they say, did not allow Parliament to function

Photo by Sanjoy Narayan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sanjoy Narayan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Political Bureau

The Prime Minister refused to intervene in Parliament during the second half of the budget session to end the stalemate. He did not invite Telugu Desam Party and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MPs agitating for a special status for Andhra Pradesh and constitution of the Cauvery Management Board, respectively, for talks. He refused to meet all-party delegations.

And yet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ‘fasting’on Thursday to blame the Opposition which, he claims, stalled the two Houses and did not allow the Parliament to function. Will the media call his bluff?

Writing in The Telegraph, senior journalist and commentator Manini Chatterjee had this to say:No matter how much the government tries to blame the Opposition, every member of parliament and every observer in the galleries knows that this session—starting on March 5 and ending on April 6—was derailed by the ruling party that was too afraid to squarely face the first no-confidence motion since it was elected.”

She concluded by saying, “By allowing, if not actively encouraging, the washout of the session, the Modi government managed to escape the perils of a no-confidence motion. But in the process, it also betrayed an acute lack of confidence in itself and its leader that is bound to haunt the government for the rest of its term.”

Senior journalist and commentator Manini Chatterjee: “No matter how much the government tries to blame the Opposition, every member of parliament and every observer in the galleries knows that this session—starting on March 5 and ending on April 6—was derailed by the ruling party that was too afraid to squarely face the first no-confidence motion since it was elected”

The Government stalled Parliament for three weeks in March, to evade politically inconvenient discussions in the Rajya Sabha and to avoid facing the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha. In the process it compromised and undermined the authority and position of the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman. The Government also reduced the Lok Sabha to a laughing stock when the Speaker on 22 consecutive days pleaded her inability to count 50 members standing in support of the no-confidence motions. On each day in fact, there were 100 MPs who stood up, sometimes with placards bearing numbers, to draw the Speaker’s attention.

Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Derek O’Brien described it as ‘Government Sponsored Disruptions’(GSD) while Congress leader Jairam Ramesh called it ‘Government Organised Disruption’(GOD). In an interview to The Hindu, Ramesh said, “What I found most depressing is that this agitation was going on when the Prime Minister was present in the Rajya Sabha. He should have got up, and said come to my room.” But the PM did no such thing.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar actually added fuel to the fire by naming Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as stalling proceedings, provoking Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge to call the ‘lie’. Both the Gandhis were actually in their seats while TDP and AIADMK MPs were in the well.

So, the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues, who have neither tweeted nor observed a fast on atrocities on Dalits, the rape and murder in Kathua, the suicide of the farmer who named the Prime Minister in his suicide note, the PNB bank fraud, Nirav Modi or question paper leak, will fast on Thursday, not in sorrow but to score a political point

But trust the theatrical Narendra Modi to declare on Wednesday evening, “People who couldn’t gain power in 2014, don’t want the country to move forward. They didn’t let Parliament work for a single day. They killed democracy and we will observe fast to bring their crime in front of the world. I will also hold fast. But I will continue my work.”

So, the Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues, who have neither tweeted nor observed a fast on atrocities on Dalits, the rape and murder in Kathua, the suicide of the farmer who named the Prime Minister in his suicide note, the PNB bank fraud, Nirav Modi or question paper leak, will fast on Thursday, not in sorrow but to score a political point.

Prime Minister Modi in fact is accused of bringing the ‘Gujarat model’ of the Legislature to the national capital. When he was the chief minister, the number of sittings of the Gujarat Assembly were among the lowest in the country, 29 to 31 days annually. Most Bills, 90% of them, would be passed by the Assembly without discussion on the same day they were introduced. The rest within three days and again without discussion.

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