Curtailing Parliament session wrong

It is now certain that the Winter Session of Parliament will not be held on schedule and would be badly curtailed. Every year, the winter session starts in the third week of November and concludes after a month. Since members of Parliament have to be notified two weeks ahead of the session and the notification has not yet taken place, the session will not commence before the second week of December. This is very unfortunate because there is no genuine reason for the curtailment of the session, and the reason that is adduced for it is unacceptable. The campaign for the Gujarat Assembly elections has started and is going to peak in the coming weeks. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ministers at the Centre and senior leaders of the BJP will be campaigning in Gujarat. A large number of MPs will also be busy electioneering in the state. The session has become a victim, as the government probably thinks that campaigning in Gujarat is more important than holding the session in time.  

The thinking is not only unfortunate but unhealthy and undemocratic. Since Parliament is the most visible symbol of democracy, the government's attitude to it amounts to disregard for democracy. It has taken liberties with rules and conventions of Parliament in the past and has not always cared to uphold its best traditions. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rarely attends Parliament and hardly listens to debates and answers questions. This is in sharp contrast with most previous prime ministers who used to spend a lot of time in Parliament. India's Parliament has fewer sittings than those of many other democracies. There has been a decline in the number and duration of sittings over the years too. Sessions are also badly disrupted and paralysed, and the Opposition is usually blamed for this. But the prime responsibility to convene Parliament, to run it and to ensure that its legislative business is successfully done is the government's and the ruling party's. The disruption of the schedule of the Winter Session and its pruning are therefore bad auguries and reflect badly on the government's commitment to parliament.  

The BJP has major stakes in the elections in Gujarat. It may not be finding the going easy as the campaign is gaining momentum. It might even be thinking that the issues the Opposition might raise in the session mightgo against it in the elections. But to allow electoral and political considerations to disrupt Parliament's time-honoured schedule is wrong. It sets a bad precedent and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made a poor defence of it. A Congress-led government may have curtailed the session in the past, but the present government should not be emulating it.

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