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Cracks in INDIA bloc come to fore over resolution against Emergency, BJP rubs it in

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New Delhi, June 26: The resurgent Congress-led INDIA bloc has been latching on to every opportunity to corner the BJP-led NDA while reiterating that, as the voice of India, they will keep the government on a tight leash.

However, unity within the INDIA bloc seems to be wavering with the group purportedly struggling to put forth a united stand against the Narendra Modi dispensation. Within three days of the commencement of the 18th Lok Sabha proceedings, the Opposition has found itself divided on a couple of issues, including the resolution on Emergency, dissenting voices on the division of votes for the Speaker election, and also the choice of the INDIA bloc’s Speaker candidate.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), soon after NDA candidate Om Birla won the Speaker’s election by voice vote on Wednesday, called out the ‘myth of Opposition unity’ and said that Congress was being forced to ‘hide its face’. Rubbing in further, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala said that key allies of the Congress, including DMK, Samajwadi Party, and Trinamool Congress, moved away from it when the former opposed the resolution on Emergency.

Notably, the Congress and its INDIA allies have been taking potshots at the NDA over picking Om Birla as Speaker for a second term while accusing the latter of insulting the mandate by ignoring the longest-serving Congress MP for the top post of the Lower House.

However, the Opposition found itself under the cloud as the differences and dissent within the bloc came to the fore, and its narrative of ‘save the Constitution’ was destroyed by NDA’s resolution against the Emergency. Tussle over Speaker candidate While the BJP and its allies finalised Om Birla as its candidate for the post of Speaker, the Congress-led INDIA bloc saw dissent and differences within on zeroing in on a nominee for the post.

The Congress projected K. Suresh, the longest-serving eight-time MP from Kerala, as its candidate but this left the Trinamool sulking as it reportedly wasn’t taken into confidence. Trinamool, being the third biggest alliance partner in the INDIA bloc, didn’t hold back in expressing its displeasure, and the same was conveyed to the Congress high command.

Mamata Banerjee herself called it a unilateral decision, following which Rahul Gandhi spoke to the Bengal CM over the phone and sought to pacify her. On Wednesday, the animated discussion between Rahul Gandhi and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee in the Parliament complex also gave credence to the speculation of dissent within the bloc.

Speaker’s election NDA candidate and three-time MP Om Birla enjoyed a comfortable edge over eight-time MP K. Suresh, and was tipped to win the race easily. The election for the Speaker’s post was necessitated after the BJP refused to give in to Congress’ demand for the Deputy Speaker’s post as per the convention. Accordingly, the Congress fielded K. Suresh for the post, but reports suggest that its ally partners, including the NCP and SP, were not keen on the contest as they didn’t want to be seen as the ones breaking the Parliamentary convention of getting the Speaker elected unopposed. When it came to voting, the Opposition camp looked divided as there was no unanimity on whether to go by voice vote or seek division of votes. Multiple partners spoke in multiple voices, leading to chaos. Trinamool preferred a voice vote and so did the Congress. Jairam Ramesh later also put it on record that INDIA bloc parties could have insisted on division of votes but “opted for voice vote to promote the spirit of consensus”.

Resolution against Emergency  again brought the differences between the INDIA bloc allies to the fore, even though the constituents tried hard to give a semblance of unity. As newly elected Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla read out the resolution against the Emergency, it drew loud protests from the Congress but its allies, including Samajwadi Party and Trinamool, the second and third biggest partners in the alliance, came out in support, causing further heartburn. Speaker Om Birla not only described the 21 months of Emergency as a ‘dark chapter’ in Indian democracy, but also asked the members to observe a two-minute silence.

IANS

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