When a government fails the situation is bad. The government needs to be replaced. When the opposition fails the situation is worse. There is no one to replace a failed government. Today the BJP as the main opposition party is displaying spectacular failure of performance.
Home Minister Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde said that the Coalgate issue will soon fade away like Bofors because public memory was short. The BJP spokesperson Mr. Balbir Punj responded:
“In 1984… Congress had won more than 400 seats.
After…Bofors scandal Congress was out of power…”
As a matter of fact the Home Minister was doing great service to the opposition. He made his remarks in the context of the economic reforms just unleashed by the government. He predicted that the debate about Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) would divert attention from Coalgate corruption. His remarks almost suggested sabotage of Congress interests. He was warning the opposition not to forget Coalgate. What is going on inside the Congress had best be left to conjecture. But what is happening within the opposition is crystal clear. The opposition is doing everything possible to vindicate the Home Minister’s prognosis.
Like a puppet on a string the opposition has jumped to grab the Congress bait. It has taken to the streets. It is organizing nationwide public protest. It is ranting against FDI. It has walked into the trap of starting a national debate on FDI in which the BJP by no means is on a strong wicket. The FDI proposal itself has undoubted benefits and also legitimate concerns. In order to fine tune the policy an informed debate is required in parliament, not sloganeering on the street.
The BJP is clearly on the wrong foot because in 2004 its government had proposed 100 percent FDI in retail. Now in opposition it is opposing it. All the sophistry in articulation by the likes of Mr. Arun Jaitley and Mr. Yashwant Sinha cannot obscure the party’s brazenly opportunistic somersault.
Mr. Balbir Punj reminded government that the public had not forgotten Bofors. Of course it had not. That is why the public defeated the Congress. It was the opposition which forgot Bofors. Afterwards in power several times what did it accomplish in the Bofors case except promote the interests of the Congress? After Bofors the Congress lost but the opposition never won.
A fractured government that lasted just ten months was all that it delivered to the nation. Bofors remains unsolved and corruption keeps mounting. Does the same fate await the nation after Coalgate? That would appear to be the case.
Consider the opposition’s dismal response to the Coalgate scandal. It refuses to pose legitimate questions to corner the government. The Mumbai Mirror owned by the Times of India group reported that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh complained to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi against her Political Secretary Mr. Ahmed Patel. According to the newspaper the PM alleged that his office was constrained to approve a large number of faulty coal block licenses because Mr. Patel had recommended them on behalf of the party. When such an allegation is made in print is it not obligatory for the government to deny it? Is it not obligatory for the opposition to seek a clarification?
A page one photograph showing Mrs. Sonia Gandhi receiving flowers from Coalgate accused Mr. Manoj Jayaswal while flanked by Coalgate accused Mr. Vijay Darda and Mr. Ahmed Patel was published in the media. Given the involvement of the two accused in the Coalgate scam is not the opposition and public justified to enquire the circumstances which led the Congress President and UPA Chairperson to interact with them?
A letter written by Mr. Manoj Jayaswal has indicated that current Coal Minister Mr. Shriprakash Jaiswal was appointed arbiter to settle family differences related to the shares of a coal block license awarded to AMR Iron and Steel Company. The letter indicates that 14 percent shares were left to the Minister’s discretion to dispose off as he thought fit. Is it not incumbent upon the opposition to demand an explanation from the Minister and enquire the ultimate beneficiary of those 14 percent shares allotted free of cost…?
There are many questions that any genuine opposition would have bombarded the government with. But the BJP is silent. It is entering a diversionary debate about FDI.
The conduct of the BJP is inexplicable. Given its present trend it is already a failed opposition. At best it can become a failed government. Regardless of whether in the future it participates in power it cannot by its present functioning deliver the desired results to the Indian nation. It will offer an administration no different or better than what is delivered by the present government. Given the apparent ability of several of its leaders it remains a puzzle why the BJP persists with failure.
Does the party suffer from a crisis of intelligence or a crisis of integrity? Unless it reinvents itself the BJP has no future. At present the condition of the party is worse than pathetic. It is tragic.