Parl washout, dangerous trend

Parl washout, dangerous trend

Yet another session of parliament has passed without its main function of deliberation and legislation taking place in both Houses. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have little to show for discussions and bills enacted, though there was a pressing and important legislative agenda before them. The four weeks since the session started on November 27, the Rajya Sabha functioned for only 57 hours and the Lok Sabha for 109 hours. Actually, only a fraction of this time was spent on real legislative business. The few bills which were passed were cleared without debate, and they were those which the parties did not want to be seen as stalling for political reasons, like the one on atrocities against Dalits. Another one was the Juvenile Justice Bill, which saw some discussion. Overall, parliament again failed the people, and important pieces of legislation like the GST Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill and the Real Estate Regulation Bill could not be passed. These are important for the country’s growth and for the people.

The Congress should take the main blame for this, because it was the party that stalled both Houses on various issues. The issues changed as the session progressed, and it surely gave the impression that the party was only looking for newer and newer excuses to block parliament. It had probably decided that it would not allow parliament to function and would not allow important legislation to go through. The government also did not show the necessary political skill to reach out to the opposition, and could not convince the opposition of its sincerity, despite the contacts at the top level in the beginning of the session. After all, the BJP has also blockaded entire sessions of parliament in the past, and its leader had called for a country free of the Congress. Even when the Houses were in session, the government created issues which were red rags for the opposition, like the raid in Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s office and the bid to topple the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh. The Centre cannot say it was not involved in these.

Parliament has not functioned normally for the last three years. The Congress should realise that competitive disruption will not add to its credit. India’s parliamentarians may note that the British House of Commons has not had more than 50 disruptions in over a century, and none of them lasted more than 30 minutes. The last one was in 2004. When parliament practically does not function for years, democracy loses its meaning and legitimacy. It is a dangerous prospect.
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