Auditioning for 2024 Begins

Once again, Parliament is besieged by disruptions rather than legislative work. The opposition wants a JPC on the Adani issue, while the treasury Benches have upped the ante by targeting Rahul Gandhi and his comments in Cambridge during his recent visit there. One could say that the latter was a diversionary tactic to distract the Opposition—and the headlines—from the Adani issue. In fact as Congress leader Shashi Tharoor pointed out, it is the treasury benches and not the Opposition that is disrupting the Budget session. Normally, the onus is on the party in power to ensure that the budget session goes without disruptions and the finance bill is passed. The Congress has also asked that Rahul Gandhi be allowed to clarify and make a statement on the floor of the House regarding his comments in London. But he was not allowed to do so during the first week of the Budget session.
The strategy of the BJP MPs makes sense when you see things in perspective. This is the year before the General Elections and a time when the posturing and the campaigning begins. The BJP is keen to get its narrative out in the public and a key cornerstone of its campaign has always been nationalism. Hence, this effort to showcase Rahul Gandhi as someone who is anti-national and critical of India on foreign soil. This is also why the Congress is keen that Rahul gets to make his point and gets his side of the story out there, on the floor of the House so it becomes a matter of record.
As far as the Opposition’s strategy is concerned, they are keen to tarnish the BJP with allegations of corruption and crony capitalism. Hence, they want to keep the Adani issue alive. Don’t forget that most of the Opposition leaders have had a brush with ED and the CBI recently. This includes the top leadership of the Congress, AAP, TMC, NCP, RJD and Uddhav Thackeray’s Sena. This has managed to unite almost the entire opposition in its demand for a JPC on the Adani issue. If they can link a quid pro quo between the controversial businessman and the PMO, then the Opposition, particularly the Congress, feels it can pull off a redux of the Bofors scam that saw the then Congress government fall (no matter that the charges were cleared by the Supreme Court, but the clean chit came too late for the party and Rajiv Gandhi). And so we will see this narrative of nationalism vs corruption being played out at various layers in the run-up to 2024 as the various political parties try and get their political narratives in place.

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