The Budget Session of 2010 has come to a close today. The high point of this session was complete helplessness of the UPA to manage inflation, particularly, the food inflation. The government came under serious criticism on this count. The UPA has undermined various political institutions. Ministerial corruption and misdemeanours highlighted in the case of A. Raja and Shashi Tharoor, misuse of the CBI, undermining democratic institutions by indulging in phone tapping of political opponents and inconvenient colleagues, the contradictions within the government on the issue of how to handle Maoist violence were the high points of this session.
This session began on a note with the government cornered by the entire Opposition on the issue of price rise. Even before the budget was presented, both Houses witnessed the BJP espousing this misery of the Indian people. Our Parliamentary pressure on the government was accompanied by a nationwide agitation, signature campaign by millions of people and a huge rally in Delhi on April 21, 2010. The government throughout this session could not come out with convincing reply as to how to handle the issue of price rise. Prime Ministerial predictions coupled with assurances of the Finance Minister and Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission towards the end of 2009 that the prices would come down proved illusory. The incompetence of the government, in handling the price situation, stands exposed before the people. The BJP had the opportunity of emerging as the popular voice on this issue, and we endeavoured to discharge the responsibility very emphatically.
Maoist violence today is on the increase. Some 220 districts are today witnessing this Maoist presence, while 90 of them have witnessed the Maoists’ dismantle civil administration and take partial or full control of them. The BJP led the entire Opposition in highlighting the menace of Maoist violence. Our nationalist credentials were apparent when we were willing to support the tough line of the government, which included a serious challenge to the Maoists, development of the backward regions, and an ideological battle against the Maoists. It was the Congress and the UPA, which stood badly exposed. It is ironical that from the NDA to the CPI (M), the Opposition wants the country to close ranks to fight the Maoists. It is the ruling alliance that witnessed division in its ranks on this issue.
Real versus vulnerable Opposition
This session of Parliament started on a note of Opposition unity but soon the division between the real and phony Opposition became clear. There is indeed a vulnerable section in the Opposition. It is vulnerable because of cases of corruption against their leaders and the ability of the CBI to manipulate the top leadership. The Cut Motion on the demand for grants was lost but it achieved its success in exposing the unholy alliance of the vulnerable and phony section of the Opposition with the ruling UPA. The BSP supported the Opposition on the Cut Motion. The Samajwadi Party and the RJD proved to be Trojan Horses on the Cut Motion. This distinction between the real and the phony Opposition will now have to be exposed before the people, particularly, the people of UP and Bihar. Already the BSP-Congress battle in the UP appears to be a mock fight and the battle for the non-BSP space in UP now provides the BJP an opportunity to march ahead.
The issues of ministerial corruption and misdemeanours reached a climax in this session. The allocation of 2G spectrum by the Telecommunication Ministry at throw away prices to a chosen few, the role of the lobbyists in cabinet formation and allocation of spectrum, which caused immense loss to the public exchequer, was repeatedly highlighted by us. The quid pro quo in terms of benefits received by a colleague of Shashi Tharoor, the former minister of state for External Affairs, in return for support given by him to an IPL franchise cost him his job under Opposition pressure.
The misuse of CBI
The misuse of CBI was repeatedly highlighted by the BJP inside and outside the Parliament. The Lok Sabha was to have witnessed a debate in this regard but constraints of time prevented it. We therefore protested on this issue outside the Parliament and submitted a memorandum to the Honourable President in this regard.
Telephone Tapping undermines the right to privacy, a tenet of personal liberty, which is inherent ingredient of Indian democracy. Today, the government has virtually confessed to both authorized and unauthorized telephone tapping. The government was cornered by the entire Opposition but its blatant defiance of democratic norms remains apparent. Price Rise, corruption, undermining the CBI, undermining democratic institutions through telephone tapping remained high points of the session. But the government appeared unconcerned. The BJP is confident that its campaign on each of these issues will erode the support to this government and consolidate the democratic forces around the BJP.
The BJP discharged its 15-year old commitment by enabling the passage of the constitution amendment Bill in the Rajya Sabha permitting 33 percent reservation for women in legislatures. The Bill was passed in a House where the Opposition was in majority. The BJP remained in the forefront, ensuring the passage of this bill and its commitment to this law remains unflinching.
Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010
The session ended with the government introducing the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill, 2010. The BJP is convinced that there is no national consensus on this Law. This law is being endevoured to be approved under international pressure. The passage of this Bill goes against the basic tenets of fair play. The Indian citizens will be treated as unequal to their international counterparts once this law is passed. There are double standards in the matter of compensation. It erodes the basic principle that the polluters will compensate the victim in a nuclear accident. This law, as drafted, shifts the liability on the shoulders of Indian taxpayers to substantially compensate the victims while allowing those guilty of negligence to escape cheaply.
(Ram Kripal Sinha)
Secretary, BJP Parliamentary Party
Secretary, BJP Parliamentary Party