Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
PM Narendra Modi has been behaving in rather strange ways. How does one explain his own and BJP's protest against the 'disruption' of parliament? Who is responsible for the functioning of parliament? Who is supposed to face a no-trust vote motion? While it is true that there should be room for protest in a democratic system, if it crosses the line, there should be some action against those who do so.
Modi, one gets the feeling, is making the same kind of mistakes which Sonia Gandhi did at the time of bifurcation of the state. Speaker Meira Kumar had, at that time, carried out a voice vote and announced its results when the House was not in order. This was possible because of the support of the principal opposition party at that time, the BJP and its leader, Sushma Swaraj. Congress MPs, who expressed no-confidence against their own party, were expelled. Sonia Gandhi however, far from punishing her party MPs from Telangana protesting on the steps of the parliament, extended all facilities to them. She was also responsible for the disastrous rout of the congress through her poor decision-making and flawed strategy.
PM Modi is no different today. Two years ago, one thought that there was no one to match his popularity, or stand up to his stature. However, with demonetization, he plunged the entire country into an unprecedented crisis. GST only worsened things for him and further alienated many sections. This time around, he failed to ensure that the parliament ran smoothly.
What should a competent, earnest ruling party do? It should hold negotiations with the protesting members of Parliament and attempt to bring about a reconciliation. Instead of doing that, the Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan simply went about her job as if she was keen on adjourning the House. The notices for no-confidence motion moved by YSRCP and other parties faced a similar fate. The issue never came up for discussion, because the Speaker kept adjourning the House.
A number of parties accused Prime Minister Modi and the BJP of deliberately allowing the AIDMK MPs to stage their protest in the Lok Sabha, as part of a game plan. Modi’s fast against the Congress and other parties, pointing a finger at them for not allowing the Parliament to function was indeed a clever move. But it is a serious error of judgement on his part to presume that people do not see the truth.
One gets the feeling that Modi is less of a statesman and is functioning more like a chief minister, rather than a Prime Minister. He has set a new precedent by sitting on fast in the premises of the Parliament. Any MP in future can follow his example.
Prime Minister Modi should have actually held a debate on the no-confidence motion. He and his party leaders should have explained what had been done to Andhra Pradesh and why Chandrababu Naidu got alienated. Modi lost the opportunity to explain to the people whether Chandrababu Naidu indulged in deception or whether PM Modi and the NDA government had let Andhra Pradesh down. Modi’s attitude towards the issue and his behaviour is unbecoming of a prime minister. It is certainly undignified. But then, be it the Prime Minister or chief ministers these days, to expect decorum from them is probably being unrealistic.