Party extends Sonia’s term
Rahul Gandhi is not yet ready to lead the Congress challenge to form a front against the Modi govt. In a virtual admission to this, the party’s highest decision making body—the Congress Working Committee (CWC)—on Tuesday extended the term of party chief Sonia Gandhi and asserted it would not allow passage of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill unless its preconditions were met by the government.
The Congress is demanding the resignations of Union Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister (CM) Vasundhara Raje for their alleged involvement in the LalitGate scandal and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s scalp in the Vyapam scam. The party also sought the resignation of Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh in a cooperative bank scandal and demanded that its amendments to the GST bill be accepted by the govt for its passage.
For months it was speculated that Rahul will replace Sonia Gandhi as the Congress president by the year end, but faced with resistance from a section of senior leaders and Rahul’s lackluster performance , Sonia decided to remain in the saddle until her son was ready to emerge as a consensus choice to lead the party.
While this could have its own bearing on the inner dissensions in the party, it would give the opposition a chance to question Rahul’s political ability to take the Congress out of the present rut.
The development offered little cheer to the Modi government as Sonia launched a blistering attack at the Center and her party said there was no question of facilitating the passage of the GST bill (despite industry bodies and economics making strong ace for the GST in view the grim economic crisis facing the country.)
Sonia wasted no time in attacking the Modi government after the CWC passed a resolution to extend her term. She described as “hawabaazi’ (empty talks) most of the poll promises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claimed that the BJP-led regime has been an all-round failure.
Taking a snipe at Modi for mocking his predecessor Manmohan Singh and his policy during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign, Sonia said Modi in now engaged in “unedifying flip-flops”. In this context, she cited the government’s U-turn on land acquisition bill and credited his son Rahul Gandhi and his party men for mobilizing farmers to force the government to withdraw the measure.
Indicating that the Congress was gearing up for further confrontation with the Government, she spoke of unleashing similar campaign on issues like the proposed labor reforms, and dilution of Right to Information Act and rural employment generation schemes.
“The U-turn on the land ordinance is evidence that the government is out of touch with ground realities. It has become painfully clear that most of the pledges made by the Prime Minister during his election campaign were nothing more than hawabaazi,” she said at the CWC meeting.
“The credit for this goes to every worker of the Congress Party, who under Rahul’s active guidance, carried out a sustained agitation,” Sonia said, hailing the leadership of the Congress Vice President to the cause of farmers.
She also took on the government over the its Pakistan policy and said, “Instead of a coherent policy on Pakistan, this government can’t seem to make up its mind on what it should do.”
On the economy slowdown, she said the Modi government had failed to match its words with deeds and was engaged in unleashing false media propaganda to mislead the nation. Price rise, growing unemployment, and threat to the autonomy of constitutional bodies were some other concern raised by Sonia.
Congress says no to GST bill
The Congress on Tuesday to the government there was no point in convening special session of parliament to pass the GST bill unless the party in power was ready to meet its precondition by sacking External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chief Ministers of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
At the same time, the Congress sought to silence growing perception that it was trying to derail the economy of the country by pursuing a tit-for-tat policy, with Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad saying that “we are for the passage of GST if our amendments, which are in national interest are accepted.”
Blaming the Modi government for pursuing confrontationist policy vis-a-vis the opposition Azad said, “The ruling party and the ministers under Modi’s leadership are always in an aggressive mode against the Opposition and have never tried to reach out to us. We hear on television that talks are on with the Opposition but that happens only on telephone.”
Accusing the government of not holding talks with the opposition to iron out the differences, Azad said while Modi was ready to engaged Pakistan, but ti was not ready to reach out to the opposition.
“Convening of special session of Parliament will serve no purpose unless the government takes action against Sushma Swaraj and BJP Chief Ministers,” he said.
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