Saturday, July 13, 2024

Rise of Rahul


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What’s glaring at the outset of the 18th Lok Sabha session this week was the spectacular rise of the Opposition, larger in numbers and its confidence increased. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister will have to guard his words and deeds at every turn, unlike in the last 10 years when he dominated the parliament like a colossus. With a weakened Modi taking the reins for the third time, he will have to contend with the fact that the Congress party as the principal opposition has doubled its numbers to a dignified hundred and rightfully occupies the Leader of Opposition chair, represented by its leader Rahul Gandhi. In the last term, it was a near-total BJP show. This time, the PM needs to tame himself and run the government on the basis of “consensus.” His government walks on the crutches of two formidable associates, JDU and Telugu Desam, not to speak of the JDS. The very existence of the present government for a longer duration is not a certainty.
On the Opposition side, with over 230 members in its ranks out of the total 540 in the Lok Sabha which is where the action is, the mood is upbeat. The Opposition was bound to be assertive from day one. This was unlike the last term when they were voiceless, as the principal Opposition – the Congress – itself had only 52 members; or less than one-tenth of the size of the house. Discussions are bound to be heated; and the season of passing bills without discussions will now be a thing of the past.
Like it or not, Rahul Gandhi as a politician has grown by leaps and bounds. This is reflected in his disposition in the house; evident also by the way he “pulled up” Speaker Om Birla at the first opportunity after the latter’s re-election, telling him that he erred in his statement against Emergency. The speaker ought to be impartial and cannot take sides. Birla could only grin and bear with the Opposition Leader’s tough talk. In Rahul Gandhi’s new role, he will sit on house panels opposite to PM Modi and argue the cases out from a position of authority. As Leader of Opposition, he holds the rank of a cabinet minister. Rahul Gandhi, dismissed by many in the past as weak, saw his image rising after the Bharat Jodo Yatra, followed by the Nyay Yatra. These not only raised his clout but also re-energized the Congress and eventually fetched votes for the party. Having brought the party back to this level, Rahul Gandhi’s confidence levels are bound to rise further. A strong two-party system, aided by other parties, is a welcome scenario though Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee might be miffed.


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