BJP, Congress rift widens, may disrupt Parliament

BJP, Congress rift widens, may disrupt Parliament

New Delhi: Signalling a complete breakdown of dialogue between the ruling and the opposition parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday escalated their attacks targeting the political leadership.

Coming just few weeks ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament, it sets the stage for a very stormy session and virtually precludes any compromise to facilitate legislation of important policy reforms.

While BJP president Nitin Gadkari called Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “fascists", the ruling party retorted by alleging that Gadkari was “unfit to play any level of democratic polity".

Gadkari, who was launching the BJP website at the party’s Kolkata office, also questioned Gandhi’s commitment to tackle corruption. “Sonia Gandhi says she will fight corruption. I say, it is like Pakistan saying they will fight terrorism," Gadkari was quoted as saying.

Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan responded by saying the BJP had “dragged the discourse to gutter-level politics".

Separately, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman further renewed the attack against the Congress leadership.

The Congress and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government have been subjected to severe criticism for the increasing number of corruption allegations, both from the opposition as well as the civil society. The government has also drawn flak for its mishandling of the hunger strike by yoga guru Ramdev, who was forced to leave the national capital during his fast, demanding among other things, legislation to bring back black money allegedly stashed in foreign banks.

Ramdev continued the fast for nine days, but ended it on Sunday without his demands being met. The UPA, however, was forced to form a joint draft panel comprising representatives from both the government and the civil society after activist Anna Hazare went on an indefinite fast in April. Analysts point out that the vicious and personal exchange of words could spell policy paralysis.

“There seems to be a complete breakdown of dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties, which is not a positive sign for the running of the government in a parliamentary system," said Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and pro vice-chancellor of Bangalore-based Jain University.

The policy paralysis comes at a time when the country is facing serious macroeconomic challenges in high inflation and decelerating growth. With the provisional headline inflation accelerating to 9.06% in May and revised data for March pegging it at 9.68%, the economy seems dangerously close to returning to double-digit inflation.

Shastri added that this would mean blocking of any policy initiatives and debate on the floor of the House. “Monsoon session (which is expected to begin in July) will be like the previous sessions when no major legislative business or discussion was conducted... Both are responsible for the situation because the opposition is behaving like the government is not elected to rule and the ruling party does not care for the opposition."

PTI contributed to this story.