To say that the monsoon session of Parliament has got off on the wrong foot would be an understatement. The first day saw heated exchanges between the Opposition and the government on the use of a particular word by the BJP’s LK Advani. Though he later took it back, the issue dominated the House and the TV channels for the whole day. The next day saw the by now famous foot-in-mouth propensity of the new home minister when he dismissed the objections of actress-MP Jaya Bachchan as ‘filmy’. This, of course, led to another uproar.
But at the end of the day, we can be forgiven for asking, are these the real issues that Parliament needs to concern itself with. The session begins in the backdrop of the Assam riots. Our elected representatives, particularly the home minister, needs to tell us what is being done to rehabilitate the thousands who have lost their homes and what recompense there is for the families of those who have lost their lives. We also need to know what steps have been taken to ensure that the aftershocks don’t affect neighbouring states in the form of a refugee influx and what measures have been taken to see that the violence does not recur in Assam. The people would definitely like to know the steps being taken after the Pune blasts, something that does not seem to concern anyone too much. This obsession with non-issues comes at a time when there is widespread disenchantment with the political class.
The issue of corruption refuses to go away even though Team Anna is in tatters today. Many may dismiss Baba Ramdev as nothing more than a yoga guru with national ambitions. But the very fact that he has been able to mobilise such a huge number of people while fasting on the platform of retrieving money stashed abroad should not be taken lightly by the government. There is no doubt that there are some skeletons in his cupboard which the government will unearth, but nevertheless, it would help the image of a government, already on the ropes, if it were to be seen to take parliamentary business seriously. There are many Bills that are pending. The sliding economy requires serious debate and course correction.
The political establishment must be seen to be doing its job and not wasting time on footling issues. The Air India mess has yet to be sorted out. Our poor showing at the Olympics must be examined. Various financial legislations have to go through for the economy to get back on track. These cannot wait.
At least in enlightened self-interest, our parliamentarians must deal with these. If they were to do their job efficiently and within a timeframe, they have nothing to fear from civil society activists of the likes of Anna or Ramdev. We do expect our politicos, after getting off on the wrong foot, to put their best foot forward now.