The Delhi elections were historic not only because of the huge numbers that the mandate threw up in favour of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, but also because it dimmed the aura of invincibility around Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, and the party at large. As was witnessed over the past few weeks, opposition parties, and even some allies, smelt blood and got emboldened. And to their credit, Modi and Shah recognized that the ‘honeymoon period’ was over. The Prime Minister, after a rather invective-filled Delhi campaign, reached out to Kejriwal and called him over for tea. He also finally spoke about all religions being equal for the government and the Constitution of India.
It was seen as a statement against the right-wing fringe elements of the Sangh Parivar, an issue which was in Modi’s ‘pending’ folder for quite some time.Read our full coverage on Union Budget Now, with the crucial Budget Session starting Monday, the government is keen to avoid, as much as possible, the kind of disruptions which were seen in the Winter Session, even as it looks to convert most of the eight ordinances promulgated in the past nine months into laws. The Delhi defeat has led to the wider Sangh Parivar standing squarely behind Modi on economic issues, with the exception of Land Acquisition. An informal diktat has been issued to various groups to not pass controversial communal statements which will derail the government from its economic agenda. The party and the government also believes that Modi’s statements in favour of India’s identity as a multicultural, plural, secular nation will take the sting out of the opposition. As reported by Business Standard, the Centre has also hinted to some in the Opposition that it is willing to have a detailed discussion on the law to replace the land acquisition ordinance and will look at their concerns on the issue with an “open mind”. In a political quid pro quo, such an approach could help the government find support in the Rajya Sabha, where it is in a minority, on other key ordinances such as easing of foreign equity norms in the insurance sector and the ordinance on coal block allocation. In addition to these steps, the fact remains that Modi and his trusted A-team of Shah, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, as well as BJP hands with friends on both sides of the divide, including Ravi Shankar Prasad, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and Piyush Goyal, will have to pull out all the stops in their management and back-room negotiations with members of Parliament of all political hues. Unless they can do that effectively, the prolonged Budget Session will be another wasted opportunity.