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TOI EDIT-Reaching Out BJP’s conciliatory tones towards opposition welcome, but much work remains

June 18, 2019 05:02 AM


Reaching Out
BJP’s conciliatory tones towards opposition welcome, but much work remains
It is certainly welcome that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP have started their new innings at the helm of Parliament by reaching out to the opposition. As the monsoon session of Parliament began yesterday, Modi emphasised that the opposition need not be perturbed by their numbers in the house and should participate actively in legislative proceedings. He underscored the constructive role of the opposition in a healthy democracy and asserted that every word of the non-government benches counted.

Plus, two meetings have been called to break the political ice. Tomorrow, all parties with presence in Parliament will meet to discuss the ‘One Nation, One Election’ idea, and deliberate on celebrations for 75 years of India’s Independence in 2022 and 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary this year. The day after will see a dinner meeting with all MPs of the two houses for a fresh exchange of views. All of this is indeed positive and underlines Modi’s new call for winning everyone’s trust or ‘sabka vishwas’.

That said, government leading with the simultaneous polls proposal could lead to trouble. While the idea of having one common election including Lok Sabha and assembly polls – at least for half of the states – may sound appealing and theoretically aid governance by freeing parties from frequently seeking people’s mandate, there are many practical difficulties. First, governments can fall midway through their tenure. A common election cycle would mean that the affected states – or the central government – will remain in suspended animation for the remainder of the tenure. This is hardly an acceptable solution.

Second, Jammu & Kashmir has a six-year election cycle. Syncing the state with the rest of the country will open another can of worms. Besides, the Election Commission didn’t exactly cover itself in glory with its conduct of the last Lok Sabha polls. Imagine the complexity of holding national and assembly elections together. Given the challenges, it would be far better for BJP to focus on doables such as economic reforms. Now that the party has the numbers and confidence in Parliament, it can do the heavy lifting here and not worry about pandering to populist sentiments. BJP spent its first term on social welfare projects such as Swachh Bharat. But unless it focusses on reforms in its second stint, it won’t have the financial elbow room to push welfare programmes further

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