Budget session, a shameful chapter

Budget session, a shameful chapter

Another shameful chapter has been added to the history of parliament with the budget session being adjourned sine die after wasting most of its time. It was among the least productive sessions in recent years with only 25% of its time used for legitimate business. It is not just shame that is involved, but there is the danger of our parliamentary system going under the weight of the uproar and the barracking, and the unconcern and cynicism, of the elected representatives of the people. New depths are being plumbed with every session and newer possibilities of disruption and paralysis are being discovered and implemented. Opposition parties have disrupted the House in the past. But it is for the first time that the government and the ruling party seemed to work through an opposition party to stop parliament from working. There is no other convincing explanation for the AIADMK's persistent obstruction of the proceedings and the refusal of the government to take any step to end the stalemate.    

Many wrong precedents and undesirable records were set in the process. The Union budget of Rs 89 lakh crore was passed without any substantial discussion, and this challenged parliament's basic purpose of scrutinising government expenditure. A clutch of no-confidence motions, which should have by rules and convention the first right of way in the House, were not allowed to be introduced in the Lok Sabha by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. She claimed that she could not count the number of members supporting the motions amidst the disorder conveniently created by the AIADMK members. The Speaker's partisan conduct would stand out as a serious negative. It raises the possibility of a government which has lost its majority continuing in office with the Speaker's help. A number of issues of public interest and importance like the fraud in public sector banks, farmers' distress, issues concerning Dalits, the situation in Kashmir, the Rafale deal, relations with other countries and the changing world environment could not be discussed in either House. Parliament is the rightful forum to discuss these and other issues but it failed to do so.

The responsibility for the failure, at least in this session, is mainly the government's. It is for the government to ensure that the business of parliament is conducted smoothly. But it not only refused to take any initiative to put an end to the stalemate but perhaps encouraged disorderly conduct in the House. Therefore the parliamentary affairs minister's announcement that the NDA MPs would forgo their salaries for the 23 days of the dysfunctional session in atonement or contrition strikes as a hollow moral posture. It is political deception, too.  

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