Category Archives: Politics
National Herald case: Why Modi should be willing to sacrifice GST and tell Cong to “go jump ?”
The NDA government is in a bind. It is happy to see the Sonia-Rahul duo squirm under the spotlights provided by the National Herald scandal, where the needle of wrongdoing clearly points to them; but the government is also facing another filibuster in Rajya Sabha over key legislative reforms, the goods and services tax (GST) being the most important among them.
While it is obvious to anyone with political IQ that the Congress blockade of the Rajya Sabha is really about providing covering fire and deflect the spotlight away from the Gandhi family’s dubious real estate activities, the Congress party yesterday (11 December) claimed the disruptions were about the Vyapam, Lalit Modi and other controversies involving two BJP chief ministers and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
So the chances are the NDA government will buckle under pressure and do backhand deals with the Congress to stop its disruptions. In other words, it will give in to blackmail.
The government would be better advised to call the Congress’ bluff. It should under no circumstances help the Congress wriggle out of the National Herald scandal by directly or indirectly pressuring the investigating or prosecuting agencies to go slow. That would be a real subversion of the rule of law.
Narendra Modi should give the Congress a simple message: “Do your worst. We are prepared to sacrifice the GST, and will launch a propaganda campaign to tell the world that the Congress is derailing India to protect one family.”
The rapid shift in the Congress stand from disruptions over the Herald case to Vyapam and Lalit Modi shows that the party is vulnerable. The NDA should thus drive home the advantage and allow the Congress to continue with its disruptions and tell the world daily that this is about deflecting attention from the Gandhi family’s real estate caper, not Vyapam, which is anyway being investigated by the CBI, and the courts will be monitoring it closely.
The chances are the Congress will blink first. For several reasons.
First, the focus will continue to remain on the Gandhi family’s Herald caper.
Second, disruptions will be seen by the public as evidence that Congress and the Gandhi family have something to hide.
Third, Congress allies will begin to wonder whether they have to play ball just to protect the Gandhis – and the price they will pay for it.
Fourth, the GST is no big loss in the short term as there will only be pain in the first two years of implementation, causing heartburn in the trading community and mild cost-push inflation. It will also reduce state autonomy on finances once it is done. Once states opt in, it will be impossible for them to get out. Sacrificing GST is thus no sweat in the short run. In fact, the chances are the non-Congress parties will tire of the Congress’ antics which, they know, is about saving the family. Any prolonged disruption can only benefit the BJP. With state elections due again in a few months’ time, the regional parties cannot but be worried about playing the Congress game.
The BJP should, in the meanwhile, prepare to run the reform programme through budgets and the bureaucratic rulebooks – which can be simplified and made to look like reforms.
Legislation may suffer, but not for long. If the BJP is willing to weather this winter of discontent, the Congress will return to the discussion table with its tail between the legs.
Meanwhile, it should assiduously try to divide the Opposition and get them to diss the Congress’ tactics.
The BJP should also modify its political goal: it should be Gandhi-mukt Bharat, not Congress-mukt Bharat. The Congress needs to be freed from the clutches of the Gandhi family, not the country from the clutches of the Congress, the party that brought is independence. The control of the country’s longest-serving party by one family has done the nation enormous damage and distorted all politics. Time to end it.