The current moves in Indian politics seem more unpredictable than the deliveries being bowled in the ongoing Test series between India and South Africa.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh over ‘chai pe charcha'-something the former had used as a weapon against the Congress prior to the Lok Sabha elections last year-to break the stalemate over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a fresh screening in our political theatre.
Similarly, the Congress president's plain speaking during the charcha and relatively softer reaction from both sides after it hints at a scenario, which is otherwise considered near to impossible: A cooperation between the government and Opposition in the world's largest democracy.
GST's failure will hurt BJP...
The GST is a very essential requirement as far as ‘Modified' India's economic reforms are considered. The winter session of Parliament is also crucial for the NDA government for if it misses to settle the GST question in this session, Prime Minister Modi might see himself being labelled as an ‘also ran' in the remaining three-plus years of his tenure, both at home and abroad.
The shocking electoral defeats in 2015-at Delhi and Bihar-have made things tougher for the ruling BJP and with the next set of poll-bound states not being its happy hunting ground, PM Modi's worries are bound to multiply.
The Prime Minister, hence, has gone to the basics to reach out to the main Opposition party's chief. Though Rahul Gandhi is not convinced by the prime minister's moves and said it was just a show under pressure, it was nonetheless an initiative that deserves an appreciation. If dialogues can not make way in any deadlock, nothing will.
... and Congress as well
The Congress, on the other hand, will only like to escalate its opposition to a point of easy return. If it turns opposition to GST into a personal battle against the Modi phenomenon and take a useless pride in ‘making him soft', then it neither will gain anything.
For Sonia Gandhi's party, the next set of elections is as tough as BJP and there are no more Grand Alliance's yet in those states for it to ride high.
The Congress must also remember that the politics of tit-for-tat is not going to re-establish its credibility in Indian politics. It has been reduced into a farce in the Lok Sabha and should only back its demands on that GST that look genuine as a responsible opposition.
Given the fact that it had begun the story of the GST when it was in power, writing the reform plan off just to take a revenge on Modi will be suicidal for the party besides the nation's economic interest.
Politics reins over economics in India
The current softening of stands by both the ruling and main opposition party over a key economic reform measure, however, reiterates the fact that in India, economics remains a poor hostage of politics.
When the two national parties are required to come together of their own and find out an easy way out so that the nation's GDP improves, the top leaders continue to fan their egos and engage in a battle of one-upmanship in the media. More than the practical purpose, the government vs opposition muscle-flexing becomes bigger. Whereas the focus should on continuity on governance, especially in matters of economic importance.
The GST issue offers both the BJP and Congress a scope to gain something, which is a rare occurrence. Can they make the best use of it?