Sunday, Dec 21, 2014

Parliament vs parliamentarians

Political parties and their leaders, in their desperation to seize or retain power, are trying their best to paralyse each other into inaction. (PTI) Political parties and their leaders, in their desperation to seize or retain power, are trying their best to paralyse each other into inaction. (PTI)
Posted: February 14, 2014 3:25 am | Updated: February 14, 2014 9:12 am

Wrangling between government and opposition has paralysed the 15th Lok Sabha. Anti-corruption bills have fallen by the wayside

Never in the history of Indian democracy has Parliament been as ineffective as it has been in the last three years. Days, weeks and even months have passed without transacting much business, and the right and ability to disrupt Parliament has been claimed by most political parties including, surprisingly, members of the ruling alliance.

Lesser nations think that the challenges of democracy are the adoption of a parliamentary system, ensuring that there are at least two opposing political parties, holding free and fair elections, and generating voter enthusiasm and participation. Their democracies are challenged by anarchists, and by totalitarian and military regimes. But it takes a great democracy like India to show that the real challenge of democracy is to protect it from itself, to protect Parliament from parliamentarians and to safeguard public interest from the vested interests of those parties vying to represent the public interest.

The wrangling between the NDA and the ruling UPA has paralysed sane democracy in the 15th Lok Sabha. The NDA is delighted to have demonstrated to the nation, and the world, the inability of the ruling UPA to provide a functional and “decisive” government, and hopes to win the forthcoming elections on this plank. But if their ploy works, would it not demonstrate a winning strategy to the new opposition, which would be tempted to not let the next Parliament function in order to demonstrate how non-functional the new government is, ad infinitum?

Recent reports suggest that the plot may be thicker than it appears. According to some news channels, the Bharatiya Janata Party might have considered fostering a deal with the Congress party, where the latter would be “allowed” to pass the Telangana bill, though the BJP’s stance is not entirely clear. In return, this version claims, the Congress would then not attempt to enact the slew of anti-corruption bills that are being claimed by Rahul Gandhi to be from his basket — a quid pro quo that, if accurate, might have been rendered meaningless by the chaos in Parliament. Meanwhile, the Congress continues to use every opportunity to tom-tom its commitment to the anti-corruption bills and, short of resorting to a dharna at Jantar Mantar, would do all that is required to pass them in this session.

But when an opportunity presented itself in the Rajya Sabha, it opted to introduce, instead, the hugely controversial anti-communal violence bill, which had been opposed for being in violation of the federal structure of India, rather than the whistleblowers bill, which has the purported support of all political parties. Inevitably, the anti-communal violence continued…

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From the Urdu press
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