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Hindustan Times
November 22, 2012
If Parliament had been a well-run corporate, a substantial number of our MPs would get the pink slip for sheer dereliction of duty. If we had hoped that the colossal waste of time and money in the previous sessions, with the constant bickering and walk-outs resulting in virtually no work being transacted, had acted as a wake-up call, it would seem that we were sadly mistaken. The first day of the winter session has got off to the usual ‘stormy’ start with little possibility that much will get done if things go on this way. Both Houses were adjourned. This will only intensify public outrage and disgust at the fact that our elected representatives are really falling down on the job that they are meant to do.

The prime minister made a heartfelt appeal on the first day to all parties to work with him to pass pending legislations which have mounted thanks to the fact that little got done in earlier sessions. This sort of cavalier behaviour is what gives ammunition to civil society activists like Arvind Kejriwal. The sticking point straight off the blocks is the issue of FDI in retail. It is no one’s contention that there should not be a debate and discussion on this issue. But the aim of the Opposition parties seems more to trip up the government than to find ways to work out an acceptable solution. As the prime minister put it, there is much legislative work that needs to be done and that too in a short span of a month. Crucial legislations like the pensions bill, the insurance bill, the land acquisition bill, the food security bill, the banking regulation bill and many more are hanging fire. These are legislations which have a far-reaching impact on the lives of the people who have elected our MPs. In a good corporate establishment, people would have asked for their money back for lack of services rendered. True, FDI in retail is a crucial issue. But it seems to exercise our political parties far more than it does the people. Instead of creating a logjam on this issue, a mature polity would also have got going with other vital legislations.

To make matters worse, the Trinamool Congress has managed to waste time and cause disruption by trying to push a no-confidence vote which is a no-brainer given its lack of numbers. It is this sort of complete disregard for the job that they were elected to do that leads to an erosion of faith in our democratic system. Irrespective of their ideologies, all parties are meant to come to Parliament and work out the best deal they can for the people who put them there. To enjoy the perks and privileges of high office and deliver nothing in return is downright insulting to our democratic system. The intransigence of many of our MPs means that even those who are sincere about their work get drowned out. Mamata Banerjee may not have got her no-confidence motion through, but certainly our parliamentarians cannot expect a vote of confidence from the people at this rate.