BJP, Not Congress, Anti-growth, Full of U-turns: Azad

Published: 29th May 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th May 2015 07:43 AM   |  A+A-

Ghulam Nabi Azad2LL

The Congress has, perhaps, never been so aggressive in Opposition. Veteran Congressman and former Union Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha has a crucial role to play. More so, since he has no counterpart in the Lok Sabha. The Upper House is the only bastion where the grand old party still has an edge over the government. Better known more as a consensus builder, the LoP position for Azad is admittedly a challenge which he has not handled in his five decade-long political career. In an interview to Santwana Bhattacharya, he recalls the BJP’s role in Opposition in comparison to Congress’ and talks about Rahul Gandhi’s stunning come back from sabbatical:

BJP.jpgYour political career has spanned several decades, you’ve seen many up and down in the Congress party, held many key positions, including Central ministership, J&K CM. But how tough is Leader of Opposition’s role in the Rajya Sabha in the current political situation?

It’s a very challenging position. But my party and I, in fact, the rest of the Opposition is ready to rise to the challenge. We’ve to fight a right-wing political party which has had a different agenda since Independence.

Narendra Modi Government on completion of one year in office, has accused the Opposition, the Congress in particular, of being an obstructionist force in Parliament?

The disruption caused by the Congress and the rest of the Opposition put together is nothing compared to the hours, days and weeks of disruption caused by the BJP (when in Opposition). They did not allow Parliament to function for months, sessions together. When they were in Opposition, they said certain things which they seemed to have forgotten now that they are in power.

The Union Finance Minister has labelled the Congress’ stand toward reform legislation as anti-growth, anti-development?

 Who is anti-growth, who’s anti-development? When Rajiv Gandhi talked of computerisation, who opposed it --the Bharatiya Janata Party. During Narasimha Rao’s time with Manmohan Singh as the Finance Minister, we started economic reform, the BJP started a malicious campaign against the Congress party….on Swadeshi vs Videshi. Now they want to be known as pro-reform!

Political parties evolve, readjust themselves with changing times and context…don’t they?

But they (the BJP) seem to swing like a pendulum, depending on where they sit in Parliament. When BJP was in Opposition, they were against the Civil Nuclear Deal, now in power they’ve become the biggest advocates of the same deal. Who opposed Black Money Bill, who opposed FDI in Insurance, who opposed FDI in retail? The BJP did. They did not allow us to pass even one of these Bills. Now in power, they’re in a great haste to pass the very same Bills. Why did they not allow GST Bill to be passed during our tenure, now they are dying to pass it. Who opposed the Aadhar card, now they are championing it. Similarly, they changed their stand on land acquisition, on the Indo-Bangla Land Boundary Agreement. When we brought in the LBA, they went to the extent of calling it “unconstitutional’’. They’re anti-growth, full of U-turns, not us!

But are you also not changing your stand, shifting goalposts?

We’ve not forgotten what the then Leader of Opposition and now the Leader of House in the Rajya Sabha (Finance Minister Arun Jaitley) said to justify stalling of Parliamentary procedure in Jan, 2011: “Parliament’s job is to conduct discussions. But many a time, Parliament is used to ignore issues. In such situations, the obstruction of Parliament is in favour of democracy….Therefore, Parliamentary obstruction is not undemocratic.”


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