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Let the Monsoon session not be an aberration but the norm

It should make every democrat happy, for it reflects that legislators across political lines did what they are expected to by deliberating on national issues and passing laws. But it should also worry every democrat, for it reveals that a full-fledged functioning session is not the norm — but the exception — and parliament often witnesses more disruption than legislative business.

editorials Updated: Aug 13, 2018 12:36 IST
Hindustan Times
MPs stand for the national anthem in the Lok Sabha on the last day of the monsoon session of Parliament, New Delhi, August 10, 2018(PTI)

The Monsoon session of Parliament, which ended on Friday, was the best Monsoon session in terms of productivity in the last 18 years. This is a revealing, even startling, factoid. It should make every democrat happy, for it reflects that legislators across political lines did what they are expected to by deliberating on national issues and passing laws. But it should also worry every democrat, for it reveals that a full-fledged functioning session is not the norm — but the exception — and Parliament often witnesses more disruption than legislative business.

A mix of factors enabled both houses to operate smoothly. The Lok Sabha speaker admitted the no confidence motion immediately after the session started. The government willingly confronted the challenge, which it should have, arguably, done in the budget session itself. For a day in the Lok Sabha, there was a rich discussion, spanning the demand of Andhra Pradesh for special status to national economic, foreign policy and political issues. There were bitter barbs but also warm moments -- in particular Rahul Gandhi’s unexpected hug of Narendra Modi. Issues raised on that day and the government’s defence continue to dominate public sphere, and just show how a meaningful discussion can animate democratic discourse. What the discussion and vote also did was open up the House —for the Opposition now had no reason to block its functioning and government had adequate political capital to push its agenda through.

And the government did so, be it through ensuring constitutional status for the commission for backward classes or restoring the provisions of the anti atrocities legislative framework against Scheduled Castes and Tribes. It also focused on economic elements, like amendments to the Insolvency and bankruptcy code. At the same time, the Opposition put forth its viewpoints strongly. It is this balance — between a responsive government and responsible Opposition in the words of the Rajya Sabha chair M Venkaiah Naidu — which needs to be maintainer. Let the Monsoon session not be an aberration but the norm. As elections approach, parties will become more competitive in the Winter session. But it is best to reflect the competitiveness through discussion and vote within the legislature.

First Published: Aug 13, 2018 12:34 IST