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Monsoon Session 2023, ‘advantage Modi’!!

Binny Yadav

Monsoon session of Parliament which ended Friday remained most significant for no confidence motion initiated by I.N.D.I.A alliance of opposition parties. Although much of the initial days of the monsoon session were marred by opposition demand that the prime minister Narendra Modi should speak over the Manipur situation, parliament was not absolutely without business, and the session could be seen as ‘advantage Modi’.

Without doubt ,the most remarkable event of the monsoon session was the re-entry of Rahul Gandhi in the midst of the session at the crucial time when parliament debate on Manipur was to be initiated and gotting the opportunity nick on time to speak. Although he naturally was to be the star speaker of the joint opposition, in hindsight it couldn’t be denied it was the prime minister Modi who went away with the cake and smartly used his reply to no confidence motion as a pitch for the upcoming 2024 election. Mr Modi also aimed to take away all the brownie points opposition gained when Rahul Gandhi was given a stay by the Supreme Court in a defamation case by Gujarat Court and as a result got his parliament membership restored.

At the start of session it became absolutely clear that Manipur would be the main plank of the opposition which insisted on settling for nothing but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the parliament over Manipur violence. Opposition, dissatisfied with a few seconds of statement from the PM over Manipur after the Supreme Court gave a stern warning to the Center to take up action on Manipur, demanded a detailed address with an action plan over Manipur. At this time the fate of Rahul Gandhi in his appeal to the apex court against his conviction in defamation case was also unclear therefore for the united opposition under the I.N.D.I.A alliance banner, this session became crucial for a show of strength and the Manipur issue naturally became a shot in the arm. The Supreme Court’s stay on Rahul Gandhi’s conviction came as an added armory to take on the government which has been on the back foot on the Manipur issue. Timing of stay on Rahul’s conviction and acceptance of debate by the Speaker under parliament rule 198 i.e no confidence motion gave enough guesses that Rahul would be the star speaker for the opposition.

Much apparent fillip in the confidence of opposition unity had the background of Rahul Gandhi’s last address to the Parliament when he nailed down the government over Adani-Modi relationship. Coincidently shortly thereafter Rahul was expelled from the parliament over his ‘Modi’ remark. Therefore the timing of Rahul’s re-entry into the parliament at the time of no confidence motion debate signaled that this would be a great opportunity for the opposition alliance just a few months ahead of the 2024 general election to establish their unity besides throwing a big electoral challenge to the BJP.

Rhul Gandhi, who started his short address with the caveat that he would speak from his heart, nailed the BJP with its own card of patriotism by invoking “Bharatmata” and accusing BJP of being “deshdrohi”. This was indeed the sharpest ever attack on the Narendra Modi led government for which “deshbhakti” and “bharatmata” have been one of the main tools of connecting with the masses and has used such sentiments as the brahmastram to win over its electorates for past many years.

Although “bharatmata” was expunged from Rahul’s speech, Prime Minister Modi had a big challenge of replying in the wake of words like “deshdrohi” used by Gandhi, but, in his address of over two hours, instead of responding to any of the opposition allegations and expectations, Narendra Modi smartly took a different path and sort of check-mated the opposition. The reference of Manipur came only at the fag end of PM’s address, that too when the frustrated opposition staged a walkout.

Narendra Modi, who as the Prime Minister is bound under rule 198, to reply to the debate over no confidence motion, not only used this as an opportunity for him to make a strong pitch for 2024 election but also from the podium of the parliament gave a message to his electorate that he still is the strongest leader and the only choice for them.

It was not only the response of PM Modi which left the opposition stunned and frustrated for its failed attempt of making the PM speak about Manipur, BJP could also accomplish its task of parliamentary business by passing certain Bills which would leave it more empowered in future.

BJP presented a new bill for the selection panel of Election Commission by replacing the Chief Justice of India as one of the three members of selection committee-as suggested by the Supreme Court of India, with one of the Union Government’s ministers, clearly indicating its intentions of having the government’s absolute say in the appointment of key posts of Election Commission of India.

On the last day of monsoon session home minister Amit Shah introduced three Bills in the Lok Sabha to repeal British-era India Penal Code (IPC), Indian Evidence Act (IEA) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc). Once passed, this would have a lasting ‘Modi’ mark on the India judicial system.

In spite of opposition parties’ hard pitch for cornering Modi government over Manipur, monsoon session 2023 became an ‘advantage Modi’, who could ignore the volleys from the other side and had his share of business accomplished.

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