Regime’s legislation record not flattering - GulfToday

Regime’s legislation record not flattering

BRP Bhaskar


Indian journalist with over 50 years of newspaper, news agency and television experience.

Indian parliament

The Indian Parliament. Photo used for illustrative purposes only.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to make a bid for a third successive term in the Lok Sabha elections, due around this time next year. He was serving his third term as Chief Minister of Gujarat state when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party, asked it to project him as its prime ministerial candidate in 2014.  He had attracted much criticism, within the country and abroad, in connection with the riots that had taken place in the state under his watch. The RSS reckoned that it would be a helpful factor, not a negative one.  It lent the services its volunteers across the country to boost the BJP campaign.

The Congress, which was then the nation’s largest party, went into the poll arena with the burden of double incumbency. Under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, India had become the world’s fastest growing large economy. But the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government was embroiled in corruption charges.

The biggest scam related to allotment of 2G spectrum. A. Raja of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam of Tamil Nadu, who was the Telecommunications Minister, had allegedly allotted spectrum licences, ignoring Manmohan Singh’s directives, resulting in an estimated loss of Rs.1,760 billion ($25 billion) to the government. An agitation by Gandhian activist Anna Hazare put the focus on corruption, and the UPA was voted out. Talking of development and focussing on polarising politics, Narendra Modi led the BJP to victory with just over 30 per cent of the votes polled.

The Central Bureau of Investigation prosecuted Raja and Kanimozhi, a DMK MP, on corruption charges in connection with the 2G scam. In December 2017 a special court in New Delhi acquitted the accused, saying the charges were baseless. At the time of the 2019 elections, the Congress and the UPA were not in a fit condition to take advantage of the favourable court verdict in the 2G case.

Modi’s first-term performance was by no means good. Two steps he had taken without adequate preparations caused immense damage to the economy. One was demonetisation of high-value currency notes. The other was introduction of goods and services tax.  They disrupted the economy, especially the small and medium sectors. Tens of thousands were thrown out of job. Modi shrugged off his failures and put them down in the Covid account. Although his government’s performance was no good, Modi was able to ride to victory again with a slightly enhanced vote share.

He had a distinct advantage over the disparate opposition parties. He appeared to be in a better position than any opposition leader to provide a stable government. The opposition parties were not able even to impress the voters of their ability to work together. Modi has already completed four of the five years of his second term. During this period his government pushed through some key legislative measures which the hardliners’ camp was talking about for years. These include introduction of religion as a criterion in determining citizenship and abrogation of the special status the state of Jammu and Kashmir had enjoyed under the Constitution. These measures will no doubt go down well with the camp. The so-called secular parties have failed to build up public opinion against them.

When aggrieved citizens approached the Supreme Court against the new J and K measures, the then Chief Justice of India put aside the petitions, saying he wanted to give the government more time. His successors too have not found time so far to take them up.  Since the Modi regime tampered with its constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, it has been without an elected government  or legislature. All those who are holding offices after taking oath on the Constitution must ask themselves if this is the kind of situation   that great document envisages. The Modi government’s legislative record is, to say the least, dismal.

Some laws it enacted has turned out to be unimplementable. While protests raged against the new citizenship law, some state governments declared they would not  implement it. The dispute over this matter has stalled the decennial census, which was due in 2021. A crowning example of the government’s ill-conceived approach to legislation is the fate of the three farm laws it had enacted as part of a reform package. Hundreds of thousands of farmers from all over India gathered outside the national capital in a marathon protest, vowing not to accept the laws. When the issue reached the Supreme Court, it asked the Centre to keep the laws in abeyance. The government ignored the advice. The court then ordered freezing of the laws. This has created an unparalleled situation. The three laws enacted by Parliament are still on the statute book. The Supreme Court barred their implementation without even examining their constitutional validity.

Related articles