NEW DELHI: The political confrontation over Union government’s decision to ask Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to vacate her official residence is latest example of how politics is taking centrestage even as two key national issues continue – impact of coronavirus pandemic and fallout of the border standoff with China.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Union government and Congress are currently at loggerheads over half a dozen policy decisions including fuel price hike, Garib Rozgar Kalyan Abhiyan, schemes for migrants, farm ordinance among others.
With most political events including Parliament session on hold owing to social distancing norms, political discourse in states and centre was largely about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown. However days after the border standoff with China in Ladakh, Congress has been vocal in raising questions to government over the issue.
"The Congress party has a lot to explain. First the party leaders opposed lockdown and social distancing norms, and now they are politicising the border dispute between India and China. The central leaders of Congress and state chief ministers are not talking on same lines and the party is not getting support from its alliance partners," said a senior BJP leader.
Over the last week or so, top leaders of the BJP including Union home minister Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda have directly questioned the Gandhi family and accused them of running an anti-India propaganda by doing politics over the border clashes. Nadda has also criticized the Congress over the funding pattern of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which the Congress termed as a BJP ‘diversionary tactic’.
The government order asking Priyanka to vacate her government accommodation within a month on account of losing special protection group (SPG) protection last year, is likely to further exacerbate the political clashes between two sides. Congress has called it a ‘vengeance’ move and is expected to step up its attack in the coming days.
“These are all relevant issues which is our responsibility to highlight as a key opposition party. The fuel price hike for instance is affecting everyone but the government is unwilling to hear any word of advice. Same goes for assistance to states in fighting the pandemic. If the Parliament session was convened much of this would have been raised on the floor of the House but there is no sign of it till now," a senior Congress leader said requesting anonymity.
As of now, there is no official word on when the monsoon session of Parliament will take place. The session normally begins in the last week of June or in the first week of July but has been pushed because of social distancing norms arising out of covid-19.
However, the opposition to the union government is coming not just from Congress' top leadership but also from chief ministers including those representing regional opposition parties. For instance, both Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee have protested against exclusion from the Garib Rozgar Kalyan Abhiyan while Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has taken on the Union government against the recent farm ordinance.