The gloves are off in the fight in Parliament as an aggressive BJP under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah is likely to push back Opposition challenge from now on.
India’s ruling party is excited at the gains it made on Saturday, winning three Rajya Sabha seats beyond its numerical capacity. These victories were the result of defection in rival camps, mostly the Congress that shrank by six seats in the Upper House.
The new-found aggression is expected to reflect on the government’s strategy of pushing through key legislation, including the landmark goods and services tax bill that has been stuck because of the NDA’s lack of numbers in the Upper House.
“Ever since he came to power, Modi tried to build a harmonious relationship with the Opposition. For two full years, the Congress played an obstructionist role. There is limit to everything. If they are ready for a fight, so are we,” a senior BJP functionary said.
The BJP won 11 of the 27 Rajya Sabha seats for which polls were held on Saturday, including one extra seat each in Jharkhand and Rajasthan. Subhash Chandra, a BJP-backed independent candidate, defeated the opposition nominee in Haryana after 14 votes were rejected for having used the wrong pen.
“Every party is entitled to try and get its number increased in the upper house of Parliament,” telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told HT.
At least two other BJP leaders said “aggression” will be the new order for the government and the party. This will be reflected in the strategy to push through Parliament a long-pending constitution amendment bill to roll out the GST – a blockbuster reform move that will boost the economy.
“All constitutional and parliamentary avenues available to the Opposition have been exhausted. We want to call the bluff of the Congress. Let them block the bill and subject themselves to international condemnation,” another Union minister said.
Government leaders are keeping the GST card close to their chest but sources said there is an agreement to push the bill in the Upper House as opposition to it has started fading.
The BJP feels that the Congress – if it decides to not support the bill -- will have only two options– either oppose the bill or create a pandemonium in the Rajya Sabha to block it. Government leaders insist either is a win-win situation for the ruling party.
The same aggression is expected to drive the BJP on the organisational front. The party is readying for poll battle in five states early next year that will be followed by crucial elections in Modi’s home state of Gujarat by the end of 2016.
The BJP has its own share of trouble in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Gujarat but will try to not let the possible problems overshadow the strategy to win polls.
Shah is holding a separate meeting with party MPs from Uttar Pradesh here after the Prime Minister’s rally on Monday to discuss the strategy for the state polls. Similar strategy meetings are also being planned for other poll-bound states.