The BJP seems to have transformed from the principal Opposition party to the party of perennial protest. For weeks now, as it held up Parliament, its grouse was that the UPA government was not showing railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar the door. It has done so now, though somewhat belatedly. Now, the BJP has upped the ante and wants nothing less than the prime minister's resignation, to add to the long list of people whose departure from government it has sought in the past. It now says it will launch a jail bharo andolan across the country, something which would be more in keeping with the mercurial Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee than the main Opposition party.
Unkind though this may be, many might think that these theatrics are a ploy to cover up for the fact that the BJP does not have any real agenda of its own or indeed any ideas to counter the government's schemes which it does not approve of. It also plans to use the andolan to explain to the people why it did not let Parliament function. It should not be too surprised if it finds that its explanations have few takers. The BJP leadership owes it to the people to ensure that the party functions in a constructive manner even when it acts as a check on the government. The UPA has time and again said that it would like the BJP and its allies to debate contentious issues in Parliament. But the latter has taken the easy way out and blocked the functioning of the House.
The BJP may think that by tripping up the government, it will win accolades from the people. It could not be more off the mark. They have been voted to Parliament to make policies and laws, not to be a burden on the exchequer and indulge in street corner politics. There is no doubt that the government has erred on many counts. But by wasting taxpayers' money by creating a policy gridlock, the Opposition is doing a great disservice to the people who have voted for it. By constantly indulging in the politics of obstruction, the Opposition is highlighting its poverty of ideas and imagination. It should put aside its counterproductive histrionics and come up with a proper counter to the government's policies, if it can. By behaving in the manner it is doing now, it is allowing the government to get away with a lot more than it should. The Opposition is the government-in-waiting. But at the rate it is going now, it looks like it will be waiting for a mighty long time before it gets anywhere near the corridors of power.