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No interim rancor

The move being the spearhead of a campaign to split society on religious lines ~ something over which the BJP and its mentor ~ the RSS ~ have few qualms of conscience.

Editorial | New Delhi | Updated :

An interim finance minister will present what finally has been conceded will be an interim budget: sadly there will be nothing interim about the rancour and acrimony that is expected to be generated during the fortnight-long finale of the 16th Lok Sabha. Over the past four years Parliament has done little more than serve as a political akhara, hence there is every reason to apprehend that what takes place until the curtain drops will actually set the stage for an election campaign that will reflect the bitterness exhibited over the past five years during the most “combative” (to use the least-offensive adjective) period in Indian parliamentary history. Never keen to promote the niceties of democratic functioning, the huge electoral success of 2014 only served Mr Narendra Modi & Co. as a platform from which to force their way through a system for which they aired scant regard, and generally perceived Parliament as a stumbling block to their agenda. Lok Sabha watchers would struggle to detect a single instance/gesture of the Opposition being granted due respect under Mr Modi’s leadership of the House. Any such concession would run counter to the muscular policy in which the second edition of an NDA government places so much faith.

The Speaker went through her routine all-party meeting seeking cooperation (the sub-text being “compliance”) but the Congress made it clear it would oppose any budgetary move it deemed election- oriented, and the Telegu Desam Party openly rejected any call for supporting government initiatives. That was only to be expected, for pre-poll rhetoric apart, the government has indicated it would use the swansong session to fine-tune it as an election-anthem. For the Centre’s asking the apex court to permit “returning” to the owners a large portion of the land it had frozen in Ayodhya is widely interpreted as trying to circumvent any judicial balancing-action and favour the construction of a Ram temple at the controversy-riddled site. The move being the spearhead of a campaign to split society on religious lines ~ something over which the BJP and its mentor ~ the RSS ~ have few qualms of conscience. Then on the cards is the move to amend the citizenship laws that has stoked passions in the North-east. And if any further loaded action was needed it is provided in the revival of the “triple talaq” legislation. Strange that despite the drum-beating about beti padao beti bachao, there is no mention of forward movement on the women’s reservation legislation. Yet to be fair, the Oppoistion has done nothing to distinguish itself ~ Rahul Gandhi makes no parliamentary pretensions. The work-sheet for the session only reemphasises the NDA’s determination to reduce Parliament to a rubber-stamp and elevate electoral outcomes as the sole determining factor. Thus the “fire” of the session will coninue to burn till a new House is constituted. The 16th Lok Sabha will register in parliamentary chronicles as its least memorable: TGIO ~ thank God it’s over!