Ensure a productive budget session
The budget session of Parliament begins on Friday. Members will meet at a particularly important moment. Politically, the passage of legislation — especially the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) during the winter session — has created a controversy. The government faces a range of nationwide protests, even as several states have passed resolutions rejecting it and terming it unconstitutional, a charge the Centre rejects. Economically, India is witnessing a slowdown, where growth has dipped, inflation has increased, and unemployment remains high — though there are signs that the economy may have bottomed out and a recovery, albeit slow, is beginning.
This backdrop makes it crucial that the Parliament functions productively and performs the duties meant for it. For this, both the government and the Opposition have to play a productive role. The government will be tempted to use its majority to continue to push through its agenda without adequate discussion and accommodation of all viewpoints. This will not be wise. It should see the Parliament as an opportunity to listen to all representatives, for they bring the voices of significant constituencies, articulate citizen grievances, and fulfill the role of a feedback mechanism. This can actually help the government refine its policies.
The Opposition will be tempted to use the turmoil on the streets to obstruct the functioning of the House, and paint the government into a corner. This will not be wise. It is entitled to make its point of view clear, as it must, and critique the government. But this must be done within the rules of business of the House, with minimal disruption. It is through effective arguments, and smart alliance building on the floor of the House, that the Opposition can reach the widest possible national audience and force the government to recalibrate its moves.