Congress vs BJP Parliament Debate Is Just A Teaser For More Disruption And Chaos

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The Lok Sabha witnessed heated exchanges between the treasury benches and the opposition during the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address. The claims, counterclaims, and interjections all point towards a confrontational atmosphere in the 18th Lok Sabha, perhaps shaped by changes in its composition.

From 2019 to 2024, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and friendly parties held a significant lead of around 300 MPs over the INDIA bloc and opposition. However, this session saw the margin narrowing to just 60 MPs. The verbal sparring between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Opposition Rahul Gandhi turned acrimonious and personal, reflecting the recently concluded election campaign dynamics and entrenched positions.

Both Congress And BJP Remain Steadfast

While the Congress aims to sustain momentum, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains resolute not to concede further ground. The shift in strength, allocation of time for parties, and the calibre of speakers on both sides will significantly influence proceedings over the next five years. During the recent Motion of Thanks debate, Rahul Gandhi, as Leader of the Opposition, spoke for nearly an hour and 40 minutes out of the allotted 16 hours – roughly 15% of the total time allotted to the opposition.

Time allocations are based on Lok Sabha strength. During the No Confidence Motion of August 2023, the BJP received around 45% of the time, while the Congress’ share was just 18% With the BJP’s friendly parties (the Biju Janata Dal, the YSR Congress Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party) losing ground in recent elections, their allocation has shifted notably to opposition parties.

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Some prominent speakers from the treasury benches, such as Smriti Irani, were notably absent. Conversely, the presence of parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) has bolstered the opposition, particularly with effective speakers in fluent Hindi. Akhilesh Yadav’s speech, noted for its sarcasm without overt anger, followed Rahul’s assertive tone.

Rahul’s Performance As LoP

During Monday’s session, Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Modi government, highlighting issues including inflation, unemployment, NEET, Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops, the Agniveer scheme, and Hindutva, aiming to put the government on the defensive. Top ministers, including the Prime Minister, intervened during Rahul’s speech.

While Rahul addressed critical issues, some noted the absence of specific data and figures in his speech. There is already an ongoing debate over Rahul’s performance in his role as Leader of the Opposition, with supporters arguing his assertiveness marks a significant political presence that cannot be ignored.

Not new to controversy, Rahul made a reference to the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), stating, that those who called themselves Hindu only talked about violence, hatred, and untruth. PM Modi rebutted instantly.

Also Read | “Every MP’s Right”: Rahul Gandhi Questions Expunging Of Parts Of Speech

References in Rahul’s speech to to Hinduism and violence, two prominent industrialists, the Agnipath scheme, and NEET, were expunged. The LoP subsequently wrote to the Speaker questioning the decision and demanding the restoration of his remarks in parliamentary records.

Modi’s Address

On Tuesday, PM Modi delivered the concluding remarks on the Motion of Thanks in the Lok Sabha. His speech, lasting around 2.5 hours, was a scathing attack on the Congress and Rahul. Throughout his address, the opposition shouted slogans, prompting Modi to use headphones to counter the noise. Despite the interruptions, Modi’s speech, though not entirely audible, gave enough hints of the things to come in the next five years.

Modi criticised the opposition’s maturity level, noting that while the treasury benches listened to Rahul’s speech with interjections rather than shouting slogans, the opposition did not afford the same respect to the Prime Minister. Expressing displeasure at the sloganeering, Modi referred to Rahul as balak buddhi (childish) and mocked how a party celebrating 99 out of 543 seats was acting as if it had won 99 out of 100. He criticised the Congress party’s promise of transferring Rs. 1 lakh to women’s bank accounts, highlighting the public’s scepticism about similar promises made earlier.

Modi accused Rahul of resorting to drama to garner sympathy, pointing out his bail status in alleged financial misconduct.

Overall, the debate was disappointing for both the opposition and the ruling party. BJP leaders neglected discussion around their agenda for the next five years, while the opposition failed to engage in constructive criticism and effectively address issues like NEET. Both sides instead resorted to mudslinging, seemingly forgetting that the elections were over.

The session’s outcome suggests the potential for more disruptions and chaos in Parliament. Both sides must reconcile with the electoral mandate and strive for a fresh start in the upcoming Budget session.

(Amitabh Tiwari is a political strategist and commentator. In his earlier avatar, he was a corporate and investment banker.)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author

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