Little dispute regarding who got “worsted” as Parliament got active again. Yet contrary to popular perception and media hype, the damage came from within the NDA-fold rather than the fanfare from Rahul Gandhi. Which was just that – trumpet-blowing. Without recalling the cliché about “one swallow does not …” the Congress’ “last hope” will have to confirm staying-power, and dispense with the chorus that actually undermines his credibility. Sycophancy endorses nothing positive. What really hit the “saffron” brigade hard was its having to apologise/clarify the provocative communal comments from its un-controlled loudmouths. It was under clear pressure that Giriraj Singh came up with an “if I have offended…” – which only politicians accept as regret. And on two occasions the home minister attempted, not very successfully, to dispel the anti-Christian perception of his government. Nor has the anti-farmer image been erased – not by the insensitive ugliness which Mr Arvind Kejriwal and his adjuncts advertise, not even by Mr Narenda Modi&’s mini-homily. That the government appears to have opted to go slow on the land acquisition legislation suggests that it has, probably only temporarily, put its pride in its pocket.
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Arrogance, however, marked its “alternative” attempt to project itself as dictating terms. The stiff resistance to the GST legislation proved a classic case of the parliamentary mismanagement that has become a hallmark of Modi-sarkar. The Opposition was neither duly informed, nor consulted, on the plan to have the legislation approved. All the technical and historic argument from the finance minister did not undo the damage that would have been averted had the government&’s floor managers shed their “majority” fixation and tactfully reached across the floor on a move that nobody really opposes – despite a few lingering doubts. It might succeed in bulldozing its way but that will only widen the fractures in the Rajya Sabha, The rare adoption of a private member&’s Bill by the Elders is a pointer to evaporating NDA influence in a House in which it will long lack the numbers. Every “action” in the Lok Sabha will have a reaction in the other House. A strategic re-think is necessary, in the absence of which the 282 Lok Sabha seats are proving counter-productive.