NEW DELHI:A lot of hot air blew over Delhi on Tuesday. Re-elected Congress president for another year, Sonia Gandhi lit into Prime Minister Narendra Modi at her party’s working committee meeting, calling his poll promises “nothing more than hawabaazi (hallow words),” drawing immediate retaliation from the BJP.
Within minutes of her speech at 24 Akbar Road, uploaded on YouTube, HRD Minister Smriti Irani was at 11 Ashoka Road, sharply retorting: “What has the Congress done in the last 40 years? People who accuse us of hawabaazi told our soldiers for 40 years that OROP was not possible because of financial constraints. But our PM has delivered.”
She also said that the Modi government, in the last 15 months, had added more than Rs 3,35,000 crore to the coffers via the coal auction, the obvious hint being the contrast, the coal scam of the UPA years. The sparring did not end with Irani though. Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, commenting on Irani’s remark, quipped: “What the Congress did in the last 40 years or more? Helped Irani become a minister — it struggled for the country’s independence and for democracy that not only helped her get voting rights but also get elected and education was never made a criterion.”
By then, the political air was so heated that another BJP young brass Ram Madhav launched into another round of Congress bashing, accusing the old party and its erstwhile UPA government of “looting the country for 10 years.” As against that, Madhav said that the Modi government had been like a “breath of fresh air” providing “clean and transparent” government for the past one year.
Political Stalemate to Continue
The chasm between the government and the opposition, became evident when Congress leaders were asked about their stand on the GST bill and the proposed special session of Parliament. In the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with industry honchos and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu’s renewed efforts to revive the GST agenda, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said: “We’re committed to support the GST bill, provided our amendments are accepted by the government — they are good for the industry and for the taxpayer.” However, the worrying point came when he gave thumbs down to special session. “Naidu spoke to me on phone — I’ve asked him what has changed between now and the last monsoon session? Nothing. The government has to concede our demand... only then will Parliament function.” In other words, post-CWC meeting, the Congress is going to revive the demand for action against Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Chief Ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. The issues have not gone away as far as the Congress is concerned.