The passage of the finance bill without discussion is a new low in the parliamentary process
The Opposition didn’t seem particularly perturbed and the government seemed happy to not have a discussion. Apart from failing in their parliamentary duties, representatives of all parties have let themselves downeditorials Updated: Mar 15, 2018 23:43 IST
The passage on Wednesday of this year’s finance bill, 21 amendments in tow, marks a low in the Indian Parliamentary process.
Over the years, disruptions in Parliament have become common with the opposition of the day believing that disrupting the business of the two houses of Parliament is the best way of getting themselves heard and noticed. Despite that, many of the previous Lok Sabhas have found time to discuss and debate the Union Budget, enshrined in the finance bill. This is a policy document, but also one that allows ministries to draw from the government’s account to spend on their various programmes. It is something that has a bearing on not just businesses or the beneficiaries of the government’s welfare programmes, but also all Indians. It is among the most significant bills any Lok Sabha passes in a year. That this was the bill the Lok Sabha chose to display just how callously it can treat the law-making process is galling.
Who’s to blame? In this case, everyone. The government is to blame for pushing through the finance bill, not even making a pretence of seeking a debate or a discussion on it. The main opposition is to blame for believing that opposing is more important than discussing a bill that affects the lives of everyone. The smaller parties are to be blamed for not being able to look beyond their individual concerns.
Sure, there were protests by some parties but these seemed as half-hearted as the ruling party’s efforts to facilitate a discussion. The Opposition didn’t seem particularly perturbed and the government seemed happy to not have a discussion. Apart from failing in their parliamentary duties, representatives of all parties have let themselves down. They are, first and foremost, lawmakers and people’s representatives. Wednesday’s happenings undermine the Lok Sabha, the parliamentary process, and democracy itself. It is time governance moves beyond politics.