Don’t let disruptions mar this short winter session of Parliament
This is dangerous as it questions the validity of the parliamentary system of democracy.editorials Updated: Dec 14, 2017 20:12 IST
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Parliament was a mahapanchayat in which all parties have to work together, regardless of their differences. As Parliament begins on Friday after a fraught and rancorous election campaign in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, our politicians should pay heed to what the PM said. The level of discourse, even by the somewhat low standards of Indian politics these days, was personal and vituperative, especially between the Congress and BJP in Gujarat.
This session is relatively short, so it should not be frittered away settling scores on the many barbs and insults which have been traded on the election trail. The budget will be tabled on February 1; many bills are pending. In the last monsoon session, the Lok Sabha lost 33% of its allotted time and Rajya Sabha lost 28% of its time due to disruptions. Only three bills could be passed by both Houses of Parliament to become laws.
This is hardly good enough when the country is facing an agrarian crisis and social problems like attacks on cattle traders by cow vigilantes. It is up to all parties, especially the main Opposition and ruling party, to ensure that points of contention are minimised before debates in Parliament. People like Venkaiah Naidu in his earlier avatar as Union minister and the Congress’s Kamal Nath were particularly effective at parliamentary management.
The constant disruptions in the past have led the electorate to feel shortchanged because those they elected have cared little to do their job. This is dangerous as it questions the validity of the parliamentary system of democracy.
However, people can take heart from the fact that around the year, away from the public eye, parliamentary committees meet and discuss business. These are not publicised, and our parliamentarians are able to get a lot of work done. These mini-Parliaments, as a legislator described them, keep the wheels of governance turning even when there is a gridlock in Parliament. But that should be no excuse to not engage in meaningful debate when the House proceedings get underway on Friday. The accent should be on governance, and not just politics.
First Published: Dec 14, 2017 19:01 IST