Parliament disruption: Time for NDA to bare its fangs and tell Sonia ‘no deal’

Rajeev Srinivasan

I found it entertaining that, according to a news reportSonia Gandhi has demanded something to the effect of “resignations, then discussions”. That is, she wants to force the external affairs minister, and the CMs of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as a pre-condition for her 44 MPs participating in the monsoon session of Parliament. Let us note that she didn’t say, “resignations, then we will pass Land Bill and GST Bill”. In other words, she wants the NDA to do something in return for which the Congress may or may not do anything.

That sounds a lot like the much ballyhooed ‘nuclear deal’ which her party signed with the US. As Brahma Chellaney pointed out in “The forgotten nuclear deal” , it got India none of the things it was promised even after making concrete concessions (which India did). Now the US says, “Nah!”, and that is the end of the story.

There’s reason to believe that even if the three politicians mentioned above are asked to quit, the UPA will do nothing to help govern the country. Let us remember the scorched-earth tactics the UPA adopted when it thought it was likely to lose in 2014: they have no wish for India to progress and especially for the NDA to be the one making that progress happen. If people claw their way out of poverty, they’d never vote for the empty slogans of the Congress, they reason – and quite correctly.

That is from a simple revisit of the facts, and an extrapolation from a strategic perspective. Add in the fact that Sonia Gandhiis personally churlish: it is reported that she did not even greet the Prime Minister when he greeted her in the Parliament chamber. Which would not be the first time she has been petty, petulant and peevish: she notably did not congratulate the PM on his victory in 2014 if I remember right. Maybe she really does believe in her Manifest Destiny to rule brown people.

This, with a grand total of 44 seats in the Lok Sabha. So you can imagine how imperious she must have been when her party was in clover. Is this how Catherine de Medici reigned, or Caligula? As British Queen Victoria is said to have exclaimed: “We are not amused!” – Sonia Gandhi apparently isn’t either, and she’s upset that her obvious right to rule is being foiled by some upstart tea-seller.

There are several possible explanations. One is that Sonia has been led, by courtiers, to believe that she is Queen of India: after all, she married the hereditary King of India. Two is that she is exhibiting her class: she grew up in the household of a humble bricklayer, a fascist admirer of Mussolini; and, as a parvenu for whom wealth came too easily, it is only normal that she exhibit nouveau-riche traits. Three is that she is a (#DeepState) accessory, as the Mitrokhin KGB papers hinted. We don’t know; there might be other explanations as well.

And why is the BJP taking this sort of nonsense from her? It is true that they do want to push through those bills in the Rajya Sabha to prevent the deflation of the momentum for economic reform. But there must be some point at which they have to feel that appeasement is for the birds, and I wonder how far off that point is. The BJP and the PM himself have shown enormous forbearance so far: we remember the “maut ka saudagar” taunt and the “tea-seller” jibe: the language of “guttersnipes” as a famously dense MSM journalist might put it.

There are tactical and strategic issues. The tactical questions are related to what to do right now. In order to break the logjam, there could be some small moves. The very first is the power of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. I am not sure of the limits to this, but I remember the querulous Somnath Chatterjee dismissing some BJP members on trivial mischief like reading out planted questions, but enabling Manmohan Singh to escape the “Cash for Votes” scam, which was a much larger crime, and should have brought him down.

Thus the Speaker has broad discretionary powers. It would be appropriate for the BJP to threaten that the Lok Sabha Speaker will disqualify and eject those MPs who cause a nuisance, or defraud the state by signing their attendance sheet but not attending the session. No MP would like to lose his/her sinecure, so this will concentrate their minds wonderfully.

Second, the National Herald issue. An interesting case because I believe it is the only one in which the dynasts are directly implicated. In every other case, they only have an indirect role. That’s typically how bosses are: only the small fry get caught. (Al Capone and other mafiosi perfected this art of plausible deniability).

But if National Herald is pursued it can well end up sending the dynasts to jail, so far as I understand, because the evidence points directly at them. In fact, for the BJP, the threat of sending them to jail should work better than the actual sending – but only if it is wielded by someone suitably sinister, who can mouth dialogue along the lines of the mafia’s “I hear you have a nice pair of knees”. For two reasons: one, I doubt if she relishes the ‘Idea of Tihar’ as much as she relishes the ‘Idea of India’. Two, when we have judges who keep inventing ways to help Teesta Setalvad, imagine what they will do for Sonia.

Third, there is another threat I’d like the BJP to use: setting up a Truth and Resolution Commission for Crimes Against Humanity, both for the 1975 Emergency and for the 1984 Sikh Genocide: there too, the buck would stop at Sonia Gandhi and her parivar. I went through the provisions of what a ‘crime against humanity’ is defined as, and both these events fit the bill. Furthermore, her foreign friends may not be much use if the Commission files a suit in the International Criminal Court. There is the salutary example of Augusto Pinochet, former dictator of Chile, being arrested abroad. Similarly Hissene Habre, former dictator of Chad, may get arrested if he travels abroad. This argument is not theoretical: a Sikh group did serve a warrant to her in the US, although that looks as if it was ‘taken care of’.

Fourth, I suggest that the most vicious MSM types (you know who they are) should also be brought to book for their legal transgressions, if any. This will send a strong message.

Those are tactical solutions to a tactical situation where the UPA is holding the nation hostage. In this context I’d like to commend Shashi Tharoor for being consistent in deploring the disruption of Parliament by MPs. For his pains, he was chided publicly by Sonia. It must have rankled that this urbane man, who almost made it to UN Secretary General, is to be humiliated by someone far less qualified than him.

Then there’s the question of strategic options. It is a given that the NDA will gain more seats and possibly a majority in the Rajya Sabha by 2016. Thus, Sonia should ponder as to what would happen if the UPA comes back to power in 2019 (an unlikely eventuality, but it may happen). The NDA in opposition for the last 10 years may have made noises, but was surprisingly pliant in allowing the UPA to pass laws supporting NREGA, RTE, RTF and other pet Leftie insanities. What if, embittered by this obstructionism by the UPA now, they decide to play tit-for-tat and block everything as a matter of policy? Governance will come to a standstill, and India’s chance to rise will evaporate.

But then, a frightening prospect: maybe that’s exactly what she wants. The only way the Congress sloganeering and vote-bank politics will work is if everyone is barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen.

In any case, I think it’s time for the Indian populace to let it be known: “We are not amused!” I really don’t think they are amused by this tomfoolery on their rupees.


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