When Hindustan Times asked its readers if the suspension of 25 Congress MPs by Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan would help the Parliament function smoothly, a majority said yes.
An overwhelming 74% of respondents to Hindustan Times’ web poll said they believed the suspension would have a positive effect on Parliament. Only 24% felt the step won’t help Parliament function in any way.
Around 2% of the 4,175 respondents didn’t have a take on the issue.
However, the immediate reaction to the suspension was not at all a harbinger of the smooth functioning of Parliament. On Tuesday, Congress lawmakers, wearing black arm bands, gathered near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Parliament complex and criticised the speaker’s decision.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Supriya Sule and some members of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) joined the protest.
Referring to the suspension of the MPs, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi told the media that "democracy is being murdered". Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the suspension of lawmakers is "no way of resolving issues".
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was more scathing in his remarks, saying: "What is being done to the 25 MPs is being done to the whole of India...We will not end the pressure on Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan."
The political logjam in Parliament has grown amidst the opposition’s demands for the resignation of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje, accused of aiding tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi. The Congress is also gunning for Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has been linked to the Vyapam recruitment and admission scam.
Amid the political slugfest, the fate of key bills including the Goods and Service Tax (GST) bill, which will allow a single national tax to be levied on all goods and services, remains undecided.
Painting a grim picture of India’s economic prospects, Moody’s Analytics, in a report last week, cited the government’s failure to deliver key reforms, including the land acquisition bill, flexible labour laws and the GST bill, as “the major impediment” to faster growth.
Short of numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the government took the ordinance route to overcome opposition to its reforms agenda. But an ordinance is an emergency measure which eventually has to be approved by Parliament.
The ruling NDA needs opposition support to get Parliament’s approval for its reform measures. Its climb down on contentious clauses of the land bill, dubbed anti-farmer by the opposition, is a case in point.
On this issue, HT had asked its readers, “Do you think Parliament deadlock will hurt the economy?”
More than 87% of 1,395 respondents answered in the affirmative and only 11% said no. The rest didn’t have an answer on the matter.