PNB scam to rock Parliament; stormy days ahead for govt
The opposition is set to play up the Punjab National Bank scam as Parliament meets from March 5 to discuss Budget 2018-19. Holi, the festival of colours a few days earlier may set the tone for a slugfest where the all the contestants would be eyeing the general elections 16 months away.
The assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash by members of the Delhi Assembly at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence will also figure prominently as rivals would seek to pin down Aam Admi Party (AAP) for the collapse of constitutional mechanism and administration in the National Capital. The revolt by the civil servants in Delhi government at the violence unleashed on their senior most officials shows a complete breakdown of trust between the political bosses and the bureaucracy.
Karnataka elects its regional assembly in April and would be followed by Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram at the end of the year. The results of the regional elections are expected to be a barometer of public mood in the run up to the Mahabharat of 2019, which is likely to be the murkiest political battle of independent India.
The ease with which Nirav Modi could game the banking system to the tune of Rs 11,400 crore and leave the country unhindered will be used to put the government on the parliamentary mat. The attempts to somehow play passing the buck on responsibility for the scam would provide government critics to play to the galleries.
Though there has been demand in some political quarters for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the banking scam, it is unlikely that the combined opposition would press for it in Parliament. Past several JPCs have not provided any serious solution to the issue.
The past experience shows that JPC members generally tend to be split on party lines. Any JPC would have ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) representative as the chairman and majority of the members will be from it. The setting up of JPC would blunt the opposition criticism of the government at a time when the opposition seems to have an upper hand. As the elections draw closer the chances of opposition letting go an opportunity to corner the government appear bleak.
With an aggressive opposition and combative government, legislative business may suffer to some extent. But the ruling class has the ability to reach last minute understanding in case situation arises for urgent legislation.