Past experience has shown that it would be unwise to get our hopes high and so the rather shaky start to Parliament’s monsoon session did not cause as much heartburn as it should have. The atmospherics were right — the prime minister made a fervent appeal for cooperation from all parties though he must have had an inkling that this was not likely to happen. The task before this session is enormous, it has 44 Bills pending in just about 16 days.
The Telangana issue has created a furore as has the tussle between the Samajwadi Party and the Centre over the issue of the suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal. The SP has quite openly threatened not to support the government on its much-hyped food security Bill in what is clearly a case of the worst sort of politicking. The BJP which approves of the food security Bill in principle wants to make several changes to it and other legislations. But given the limited time, it does not look like any consensus can be reached.
Now, it is obvious that the government will bear the brunt of the blame for not having done its work in Parliament, namely passing legislation. But the Opposition and other parties have also not played as constructive a role as they should have. In fact, many of them have behaved in a manner which suggests that they are not accountable to the people who elected them at all. For much of the UPA’s second innings, Parliament has been a wash-out either because the Opposition has not allowed work to be transacted and also because the government has fallen down on political management. The focus of all parties should have been the economy because it is an issue which affects everyone. Blaming the government for this state of affairs would be justified, but all parties need to work together to pull the economy out of the very deep hole it is in now. There is little to gain by playing politics on this issue but that is what seems to be happening.
The fact that despite the vast amount of time wasted earlier, the monsoon session has not begun on a note of urgency will only deepen the cynicism among people about the way Parliament functions. At a time when people are having to tighten their belts, there is great resentment that our netas are doing little to alleviate the situation, comfortable as they are in their cocooned lives. A little more sense of purpose would go a long way towards reviving faith in Parliament. And offer a glimmer of hope when things are looking a little dark for people.