The suspension of 25 Congress members from the Lok Sabha may have been defended by the treasury benches, but the rancour between the two sides threatens the government’s reform agenda, with the Opposition party warning of a “disastrous fallout”.
Shortly after the MPs were suspended, a senior minister conceded that the constitution amendment bill for the rollout of the landmark goods and services tax could be in “serious trouble”.
An angry Congress is expected to harden its position on all contentious legislations in the Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA is in a minority.
Congress’ deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma told HT that the suspensions would have a “disastrous fallout”. “It means that there is now no meeting ground with the government,” he said.
Painting a grim picture of India’s economic prospects, Moody’s Analytics, in a report last week, cited the government’s failure to deliver key reforms, including the land acquisition bill, flexible labour laws and the GST bill, as “the major impediment” to faster growth.
Short of numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the government took the ordinance route to overcome opposition to its reforms agenda. But, an ordinance is an emergency measure which eventually has to be approved by Parliament.
The ruling NDA needs Opposition support to get Parliament’s approval for its reform measures. Its climb down on contentious clauses of the land bill, dubbed anti-farmer by the Opposition, is a case in point.
Suspension of the Congress lawmakers has dented the prospects of a rapprochement between the two sides.
As the Congress prepares to step up offensive against the NDA, taking it down to state and district levels, there is a growing apprehension that the government-opposition faceoff may spill over to the winter session in November-December -- the way it did from the budget to the monsoon session.
“They were quick to take the credit for the passage of bills in the last session and then vilify us. They have to offer something tangible (regarding the demand for resignations of Sushma Swaraj and two BJP CMs) if they want the winter session to be fruitful,” a senior Congress leader said.
“Let’s see. All these things have their own dynamics,” said CPM leader Sitaram Yechury when asked if the suspensions could have a bearing on the winter session as well.
Read: Parliament logjam: 25 Congress MPs suspended for 5 days from LS