BJP Needs One Pramod Mahajan

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The ongoing monsoon session once again proved that there is arrogance in the BJP, their floor management is extremely poor and they have failed to accept that they do not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

In spite of having a comfortable majority in Lok Sabha, a weak opposition pushed them on back-foot. Even NDA insiders say "the Opposition unity has always been highly fragile but the BJP has failed to take advantage of it."

BJP needs one Pramod Mahajan. Neither Arun Jaitley nor Venkaiah Naidu possesses the knack of floor management or maneuvering. Even regional party sources say: "there has been an absence of personal rapport with top BJP leaders, again something unlike Pramod Mahajan days, as the late BJP leader even shared good personal relationship with Communists and Congressmen." The biggest plus with former NDA Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime was that he could carry people with diverse views and ambitions together in the Cabinet and also in the Parliament.

Major reason attributed to ineffective coordination between the BJP and state-level parties in the house is the BJP leadership’s arrogance. Even their ally Shiv Sena and Shiromani Akali Dal have gone vocal more than once that the "BJP leadership, and especially the duo of Amit Shah and Narendra Modi, treated allies with disrespect, something perhaps unthinkable during the stint of Atal Behari Vajpayee."

Sena spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, on the eve of monsoon session on July 20th, said: "You have majority… God willing this majority should remain. But we are happy that the government has realized that they need the support of all allies."

In my opinion, Modi government flouted parliamentary procedures and traditions during the various parliamentary sessions. The government even by-passed the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) while deciding the agenda for discussions in the Lower House. Issues were not discussed in BAC and most legislation-related agendas were sought to be pushed through at the last minute with a view to bulldoze parliamentary democracy. The government failed to take all political parties on board.

The reason was lack of authority with political floor managers in Parliament, either to decide or to take a call on various important issues. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Parliamentary Affairs Minister cared to adhere to the tradition of consultation with all opposition parties on legislative and policy agenda. Their suggestions and conclusions were often overruled by the Prime Minister. This lack of coordination led to wastage of time and effort.

It is clearly evident from the fact that "the number of parties opposing the Land Bill has "swelled", with some from the treasury benches joining the opposition bandwagon. This also indicates that the government’s problems are far from over despite the Bill being sent to a joint committee. The worst case was the deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Rajya Sabha. The government unilaterally changed the definition of Money Bill by clubbing amendments of several legislations with the Finance Bill. This stance of the govt. diluted the role of the Rajya Sabha. This deliberate curtailment of powers of the Rajya Sabha by hiding independent legislations inside the Finance Bill defeats the most important organ of the constitutional democracy that is the Council of States. Such moves do not auger well for parliamentary democracy.

Narendra Modi must also develop strong second-rung leadership in the government and the BJP. Several veteran leaders of BJP (I don’t want to name anyone here), who have been sidelined in the name of promoting youth, still hold immense clout in the political circle and can be of great help managing the floor in Parliament.

The biggest plus with former NDA Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his ‘Man-Friday’ Pramod Mahajan was that both could carry people with diverse views and ambitions together in the Cabinet and also in Parliament. Modi will have to forget the past if he wants to deliver on his promises and find ways to forge alliances with all those who can help him do this. It requires relinquishing one-upmanship, no doubt …hard for a man who has brought his party back to power almost single-handedly, but there is no other choice! There has been a complete lack of second-rung ministers/leaders who could be seen as doing their work in a competent manner independently.

The result is, in the party (BJP) and in the government, one man is the supreme authority and he (or what he endorses) has been the final word. Carrying people with diverse views and ambitions together in the Cabinet and also in Parliament is the need of the hour. Smooth functioning of the govt. as well as the two houses requires relinquishing one-upmanship.


Alok Kumar, Sr. Journalist, Patna.

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