Wednesday, December 5, 2012

FDI debate – so much drama, so much waste of time….

What’s the point of debating such issues in Parliament? When the entire issue has already been discussed threadbare by these very same politicians on TV and in print. Every single point and counterpoint has already been made. There was nothing new that came out in the debate at all. Even the voting went on predictable lines. Why then the insistence on the debate; especially since it was clearly in the domain of the Executive. It was after all nothing but a colossal waste of Parliamentary time; time that could have been utilized to discuss other bills.

The same debates will now happen and time will be wasted again in the Rajya Sabha. The same accusations will be levied by the opposition all over again; the ridiculous concept of FDI v/s CBI will be deployed to justify another defeat. This CBI thingy must be put to rest once and for all. The outgoing CBI Director, AP Singh said before departing that the CBI was not investigating any cases against M&M. All those cases were already with the courts and the CBI’s role was already over. This is a matter of fact. There cannot be any denial of a factual position. But the BJP still believes that this is not true. Then why doesn’t it put out some specifics in the public domain? Which cases – or alleged cases – are they referring to? Even Kejriwal, the Joker in the political pack, gives specifics, no matter how overchewed or silly they are. Then why not the BJP? Not giving specifics makes me believe this CBI thingy is nothing but a bogey; a kind of a face saver for the BJP every time it loses the vote.

If the BJP already knew that was going to be FDI v/s CBI, why did it insist on a debate at all? Even more so, why a debate with voting? If they think they will be able to go to UP and tell the people “see how your parties are behaving in Parliament”, they are being naïve. UP doesn’t care for the BJP any longer. The people of UP look at the BJP as a party of opportunistic Hindus who exploited Ayodhya to suit their political needs; then turned their backs on them. A recent Mint issue on Ayodhya brings all this out clearly.

And how come the CBI logic works only with the two UP parties? Why does it not work with the BJD or the SAD or the AIADMK or the JD(U)? Are the leaders of all these parties squeaky clean, so the CBI has no dirt against them? Or is the Congress just benevolent towards them? For if the Congress was this monster that the BJP claims it is, it would have been liberally harassing everyone to secure their votes in Parliament. But these parties continue to defy the Congress, sometimes completely irrationally. Taking this logic further, why does the CBI not control the BJP itself on behalf of the Congress? Surely the BJP has no dearth of leaders against whom fingers can be pointed and cases mounted? I do agree that the CBI is abused. Partly by the ruling party. But much more by the opposition.

But coming back to the main point, why was there the need for the debate at all when the arguments were all the same, the performers as well and the outcome was exactly as expected? What does the debate show that we didn’t already know? That a bulk of the parties don’t support FDI in retail? That these parties will speak one way and vote another? If all was already known, then why waste two full days in the LS and now, two more in the RS? In fact, the number of days wasted is much more; Parliament was first disrupted for four days, and then even when the agreement to vote was reached, the Government was completely seized by the tension around the issue. Had it not been put to this unnecessary test, it could have done something meaningful instead.

The BJP clearly miscalculated its chances with the vote in the LS. It lost face yet again. If it just wanted to embarrass the Government, it should have insisted on voting in the RS alone. The Government is going to face a tough challenge there; in fact, it might even lose the vote there. The BJP could have taken the moral high ground by conceding the voting in the LS; using that concession to show that it was willing to walk half the distance. The BJP could have scored some brownie points in the RS. Its highly unlikely that the loss will compel the Congress to abandon the FDI policy. What will happen is that there will be a huge controversy. The BJP will say that the Congress should withdraw the policy; the Congress will say it has no compulsion to do so since it was always only an Executive decision. And everyone will get political fodder to use over the next few months. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised if this very issue is used to stop Parliament for the remaining days of the session.

I was always against testing an Executive decision in Parliament. I wrote on this on Nov 20thWhy a vote on FDI in multi-brand retail is a wrong idea….”. Now wait and see what happens. The next Executive decision – say another Rs 3-5 increase in diesel prices; or a disinvestment decision; or something else will also be forced into a discussion in Parliament. The whole rigmarole will be repeated. Time will be wasted. For the opposition, all this is just a way to ensure no business gets done. Then they can go to the people in 2014 and say that the Government did nothing in its last five years. Shamefull really. And with complete disregard for the national interest.

The real truth is that Parliament has become everyone’s *#$%&. Everyone exploits it. Anyone can stop its functioning. And even when it does function, it debates issues which have been done to death already. All proceedings in Parliament are intended purely for political reasons, not to make policies better. Politicians know their performance is watched by millions over TV. If they just stopped allowing cameras inside Parliament, all this charade would stop. It’s a good idea. Definitely worth considering.

No comments:

Post a Comment