New Delhi, Feb 19: The Congress-led UPA made all possible efforts to ensure a smooth budget session for it is a crucial one on account of the next general elections, due in another one year. The party made a move to pacify the BJP which was preparing to target the government over Union Home Minister Susjilkumar Shinde's 'Hindu terror' remark. And just when it looked that things were gradually coming under control, the Choppergate bomb exploded.
The principal opposition party, which had created ruckus in the last two parliamentary sessions, is gearing up to corner the government on issues of corruption including the Choppergate, economic woes and the controversies surrounding remarks made by Shinde and more recently, Press Council of Chairman chief Markandey Katju.
The UPA, sensing trouble, has geared up for a pre-emptive move and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the government had nothing to hide on the chopper scam and was ready to discuss the issue in the Parliament. But the principal Opposition party, which has accused the government of covering up the scam, is not ready to let the UPA off the hook and the establishment is apprehensive of another disrupted parliamentary session. In that case, crucial bills on food security, land, sexual harassment, pension and insurance will be stalled, affecting the poll prospects of the ruling alliance.
The problem is the way the Indian Prime Minister has mastered the art of silence in all these years, it is difficult for him to have any command over the challenging the situation. According to one report, the BJP was mocking Singh, saying he was being the sacrificial goat by the Gandhis as his tenure was nearing its end.
Sources in the party said it was a deliberate move by Sonia Gandhi to put the onus on Manmohan Singh for the time to project Rahul Gandhi as the party's leader was slowly approaching. BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy snubbed Singh's invitation for talks, saying it was laughable and they were giving it no importance. The BJP was planning its attack in the Parliament, which would begin with protest against Shinde's 'Hindu terror' remark.
The story doesn't end with the BJP. The Trinamool Congress (TMC), a former ally of the Congress in the UPA, was also planning to take the collision course on issues like chopper deal, price hike, subsidy in fertiliser and the Centre's alleged indifference towards West Bengal. A leader of the party said they were not in favour of crippling the Parliament, but they would surely play the role of the Opposition. The Left partis have also demanded cancellation of the deal. And there is of course, the hounding media.
The situation is getting out of control for the UPA. For while names close to the party were coming up in connection to the Choppergate, the reluctance of the Italian authorities to share details on the case with India was hindering the government from making any significant progress.
How can the party find an exit route from the ensuing chaos and focus back on acts of governance? The over-centralised party structure has eroded the Prime Minister's Office to such extent that there is no face to save the government's day when the need arises. A couple of honest but obsequious individuals are being used to cover deep-rooted scams and the Opposition is being given an opportunity to hijack the agenda and as a result, the entire democratic functioning is being reduced to a sham.
Is there an end to this darkness?