oppn parties Should We Have a Shadow Cabinet in India?

News Snippets

  • University vice-chancellors in West Bengal decide not to hold final-year examinations despite UGC prod, will instead go by the state government advised 80-20 formula where 80% will be marked on performance in past semesters and 20% on internal assessments in the final semester
  • The Centre wants the ITI and other top Indian firms to bid for 5G as Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE are not likely to be allowed to participate
  • India and China agree on total disengagement to return to peace ahead of the next round of military talks
  • The Supreme Court allows delivery of summons and notices via WhatsApp and email, but questions remain on proof of actual receipt
  • National Investigation Agency says the proceeds from the Kerala gold smuggling case could have been used for terrorist activities
  • Four Maoists shot dead in Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar
  • Despite localized lockdown, Covid cases continue to rise at an alarming rate in West Bengal. Newer areas brought under containment zones in Kolkata
  • ICSE, ISC results declared, Average scores in the English paper, 20% lower this year than the average in most years, pulls down the aggregate for most candidates
  • IIP contracts by 35% in May. Manufacturing goes down by 39.3%
  • Row erupts over CBSE's decision to reduce the syllabus by 30% this academic year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Experts say several lessons that the ruling dispensation does not like are being removed
  • Gangster Vikas Dubey's nephew killed in an encounter by UP police who also pick up his key aide Raju Khullar and his son Adarsh
  • MHA sets up an inter-ministerial committee to probe the alleged financial misdeeds of three trusts linked to the Gandhi family
  • Actor Jagdeep, most famous for his Soorma Bhopali act in Sholay, passes away
  • Pakistan says Kulbhushan Jadhav has declined to file a review petition and will stick to his mercy plea. India calls it a farce
  • India to keep a strict vigil to confirm that the Chinese are abiding by the deal on the pullback at the LAC
The plot thickens in Rajasthan. Sachin Pilot removed as deputy chief minister and PCC chief. His loyalists dropped as ministers.
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Should We Have a Shadow Cabinet in India?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2015-09-22 17:46:54

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The Congress party, irked by the fact that the Prime Minister has started washing domestic dirty linen in international waters, has announced that it will tail the PM on his visits abroad by sending a senior leader to counter his “false” propaganda against the erstwhile UPA II government. The immediate trigger for this course of action was Narendra Modi’s recent comment in Germany that his government would “clean” up the “mess” left behind by the earlier government. This is an admirable decision by the Congress party to protect its image and counter what it perceives as “lies” being spread by Modi. But once they indulge into a slanging match with the PM abroad, international waters will get dirtier than ever.

The Congress would do well to adopt a pro-active approach in domestic politics. Instead of trying to apply all its energy in countering the NDA in Parliament, where it has the numbers to thwart the government in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress should open up the battle lines on other fronts too. The easiest and most efficient way to give this government a run for its money is to have a shadow cabinet, on the lines of what exists in the UK. Instead of confining itself to comments on government policy by the party spokespersons and other senior leaders, the Congress should have a full and functioning shadow cabinet to tail all the ministers. It has the requisite firepower and the experience, since most of its senior leaders have occupied the chair in one or the other ministry.

For instance, if Rahul Gandhi was the shadow PM and he tailed Modi, he would reply to his tirades in a cohesive manner instead of the “suit boot ki sarkar” remark. We need alternative policies â€" a statement of intent of how differently and better the Congress would have tackled a particular issue being tackled by Modi. Similarly, if Chidambaram were to tail Jaitley as the shadow finance minister, he would spell out what was wrong with the current policies and would keep Jaitley on his toes. It would definitely raise the political discourse several notches higher in the country.

But one is sure that without the inputs from the mandarins, our politicians are nothing but all gas. That is why out of government politicians never criticize a policy decision on concrete grounds â€" they just hide behind inanities and high sounding words. The Congress would do well to invest in a team of researchers who could advise its shadow ministers. Given the fact that it has been vanquished very badly, it has to think out of the hat to counter the BJP. Forming a shadow cabinet would be the first step in this direction.

A shadow cabinet will tell the public that the Congress will not limit its efforts for the country to the usual platitudes spelled out in the manifesto during election time. Policy making, even for the opposition, should be an ongoing task. It should inform the public where the current government is going wrong and how things could be handled better with the alternative policy it is proposing. Just stalling parliament, not allowing important bills to become law and otherwise causing discomfiture to the ruling party is not the only job of the opposition. It has been made so in India. The opposition has to involve itself in nation building as much as the ruling party. For this, it has to be pro active. Given the state of paralysis that gripped the UPA II, this is asking too much of a party that is fast becoming irrelevant.