Finance Minister Arun Jaitley batted for more powers to the directly elected Lok Sabha on Friday, in a suggestion influenced by the government’s persistent difficulties in securing parliamentary approval for legislation crucial to firing economic growth.
The government has struggled with law making because it lacks a majority in the Rajya Sabha and Jaitley said it was unlikely any government would get a clear majority in the Upper House in the “reasonable future” because of strong regional parties.
“The Lower House is elected on a manifesto. That is unlike the position as far as the Upper House is concerned, which is elected by the states,” Jaitley said on the opening day of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.
“The directly elected house, therefore, has a significant role in decision-making in a democracy,” he said, referring to changes the parliaments of Britain and Italy had adopted to reflect this.
He said India has to persist with the practice of parliamentary consensus, otherwise there was a possibility of the bicameral system allowing the indirectly elected house to veto decisions of a directly elected house.
“Indian democracy will always have to find an answer to the problem,” he said.
“You have political parties in the region which are strong. They win their own regions and therefore those who sit in the Centre, as far as the Upper House is concerned, will always be the balancers.”
Asked how politicians from different parties work in tandem in cricket administration but failed to replicate that in Parliament, Jaitley, also a cricket administrator, replied, “Politics is not cricket.”
On the controversy over instituting a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court, Jaitley said there was complete consensus on the issue as far as the political system was concerned.
“Both houses of Parliament took the decision unanimously. There was not a single vote against the proposal. Even if the matter is to be discussed again in Parliament, I would be of the same opinion.
“I have always believed that the court’s view on this subject is final. At the same time I have also said it is not infallible. I do hope that the error into which they have fallen is corrected at some stage,” he said.
Jaitley, who is also the minister for information and broadcasting, said the government was not in a position to regulate the nature of discourse in the media.
“I would not even endeavor to do that. But it is for those who manage the news organisations themselves to decide,” he said.
Highlighting that there was a huge gap between actual news and the news analyses or discussions on TV, the minister said, “Particularly, for the print media, it’s time to strike back.
“Therefore, the conventional news for knowing what is happening in 500 places in the country… probably this may be the medium to know it.”