The first week of post-recess budget session of Parliament is all set to be washed out. Within minutes of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha starting every morning, different political formations storm the well of the house for different reasons. There was a brief interlude in the upper house on Thursday, when lawmakers across party lines spoke in a largely non partisan manner to mark Women’s Day. But soon after, it went back to business-as-usual. And business-as-usual has meant no work getting done. MPs have not had a chance to raise issues of public importance. The government has not been able to push through any legislation. The opposition has not been able to hold the executive to account. Something as critical as the Finance Bill remains pending. No party can escape blame for the state of affairs in Parliament. In opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party disrupted the house; in government, it is struggling to keep the house functioning. In government, Congress blamed the BJP for its undemocratic ways; in opposition, the Congress is emulating precisely the same tactics to embarrass the government. The fact that there a range of smaller forces — with region-specific demands, catering to their home constituencies — complicates the task further.
But the fact remains that irrespective of who is to blame, the entire House owes it to the public to do its duty: raise issues, discuss and debate policy, institute checks and balances, pass legislation. The core of the current battle is the rules under which the discussion on the irregularities in the banking sector should happen (government wants just a discussion; opposition wants a discussion and a vote) and whether it should be incident specific or more comprehensive (government wants it to be larger spanning years; opposition wants it to be specific to the PNB fraud). The onus lies on both the BJP and, as the primary opposition, the Congress to reach an understanding and resolve the impasse. The opposition must realise that it cannot use the issue to destabilise the government; the government must realise that an honest discussion on the banking fraud is essential. The first week is wasted. But from next week, Parliament must live to its mandate.
Courtesy – Hindustan Times.