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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Call of duty

Young MPs mean well,but it is absurd to talk of ‘no work,no pay’ for Parliament

Written by The Indian Express |
December 1, 2011 1:40:20 am

After days of a sapping and dangerous impasse in Parliament,many politicians have stepped beyond their party postures and expressed their personal frustration with this state of affairs. Young politicians like Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah,the BJP’s Varun Gandhi and others like Vijay Mallya have even suggested a radical “no work,no pay” idea — to freeze salaries and allowances if a minimum number of hours is not devoted to parliamentary business. Deepinder Hooda of the Congress wrote a letter to the speaker,asking for MPLAD funds to be cut to the extent of monetary loss caused by those who squander Parliament’s time with their disruptions.

This feeling is wholly understandable,in this fourth consecutive session of legislative logjam. Parliament has several crucial bills on its plate,which deal with the nation’s most pressing questions — anti-corruption bills like the Lokpal bill and the judicial standards bill,urgently needed bills like the land acquisition bill,the UID bill,legislation related to higher education,financial markets and more. And yet,day after day,this agenda is put aside by political parties — a huffy,obstructionist opposition and an aloof government — and neither side seems adequately invested in moving on with this vital work.

As recent entrants to Parliament,young MPs across the board are right to express their dissatisfaction with this situation. However,the solution proposed is facile — the institutional importance of the legislature cannot be rewritten into a transactional equation for its members. The whole is far more consequential for our democracy than its parts. The deep disagreements within Parliament need to be respected and synthesised through debate,not flattened by punishing measures. It would make far more sense for these MPs to operate as pressure groups within their own parties and speak up for parliamentary engagement,rather than advocate industrial-relations methods to break ideological gridlock. They have begun a crucial conversation — they need to widen it in scope and participation.

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