0ur politics, it would seem, needs to take a leaf out of our foreign policy book. Even when dealing with an antsy Pakistan, New Delhi has been able to put aside contentious issues and move along with the dialogue process by focusing on points of convergence. But, as Parliament goes into a gridlock for the seventh day on the inflammatory telecom issue, it would seem that corruption is the only issue that concerns our political worthies. Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s lunch that was not just to break bread but also the deadlock has not worked once again, despite his legendary ability to soothe frayed nerves. It is now clear that the government and the Opposition cannot see eye to eye on the modalities of proceeding in this case. The latter wants a Joint Parliamentary Committee, the government will not concur.
But many of us in whose name the elected representatives are fighting the good fight against corruption would like to know what has become of several important legislations that were to have been taken up this session. If the government and Opposition simply cannot agree on the telecom issue, surely there has to be a finite time in which the matter can be discussed every day and then deferred to the next pending a satisfactory outcome. Some of the bills that were to be tabled have a crucial bearing on the lives of millions of people. Among these are the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2010, the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2010, the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2010 and Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010. Surely, our elected representatives owe it to the people who put them in Parliament to not just introduce but also debate the many pending bills, instead of pushing them to the next session. The backlog will be difficult to tackle even if the corruption issue were to be resolved. There is no doubt that alleged scams involving mega sums of money excite mega passions. But, similarly, huge amounts of the exchequer’s money have gone into many schemes, socio-economic and others, that require scrutiny and debate.
Our political class must not forget that Parliament is the forum of the people, not their personal, exclusive club. While we are as anxious, if not more, than our politicians to see that justice is done in the alleged telecom scam, we would also like the government to move forward with other issues as well even as it battles it out with the Opposition on 2G. Public faith in the institutions of democracy and their custodians is at a worrying low. The moment for course correction is now.