Parliament diary: PM Modi vs Congress, Benazir Bhutto remembered, MPs’ salary hike
Parliament is not a likely arena to kick-start an election campaign. But that’s what most MPs thought it was after listening to the Prime Minister’s reply to the Motion of Thanks on Wednesday.
Modi’s speech a poll curtain raiser, says Opposition
Parliament is not a likely arena to kick-start an election campaign. But that’s what most MPs thought it was after listening to the Prime Minister’s reply to the Motion of Thanks on Wednesday. The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s denial, no such plan to advance the big fight of 2019 to 2018, had few takers.
Post-PM-speech, TDP MPs harangued by the do-gooder media drew this response: “They (BJP) are advancing their politics, we’re advancing ours. We too have to prepare for the polls.’’ In other words, TDP is putting visible pressure on the government for ‘special status’ funds, even disrupting PM’s speech with the Congress, just to ensure their constituents know they are on the job— “strategy for elections”.
PM vs Congress
The Congress too, read the PM’s reply as an election “curtain raiser”. Not just Karnataka, but the Lok Sabha polls as well. As the PM lit into the Grand Old Party for functioning as a protectorate of a single family and for partitioning the country, upset Congressmen, Mallikarjun Kharge, Veerappa Moily, Shashi Tharoor called the PM’s speech a “farrago of misinterpretation”. Moily suggested PM read up three books for better understanding of the past.
This is not even factoring in Renuka Choudhury’s laughter, compared to you-know-who of Ramayan by the PM. So convinced was the Congress, the PM has kick-started campaign, it went into a quick hurdle. Rahul Gandhi issued a two-page signed Press note thereafter, listing out why the PM should be less “obsessed” with the Congress, instead give ‘future’plan—“share his vision”— on how to tackle rising unemployment, national security (China, Pakistan) and increasing MSP. The debate crossing over the threshold of Parliament is of course, a novelty, admitted a Congress senior leader.
Benazir Bhutto was much remembered on Wednesday, thanks to a slip by the PM. She was credited with signing the Shimla Agreement with Indira Gandhi, not her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. However, an old member recalled 16-year-old Benzair had indeed stolen the thunder that 1972 July in Shimla. And, she indeed dominated Indo-Pak relations in subsequent decades.
MPs’ salary hike
Salaries are not just a concern of the service class, but the MPs. In the middle of hectic debates and PM’s speech, some of them remained busy calculating the exact hike, announced by the FM in the budget speech.