Missing in opposition

As the UPA fumbles and falters,the BJP looks petulant and churlish

Written by The Indian Express | Published: May 2, 2013 3:23:24 am

As the UPA fumbles and falters,the BJP looks petulant and churlish

At a moment when the government’s image appears more bruised than ever before,the opposition may be rushing to the rescue. By announcing its parliamentary non-cooperation movement,the BJP has successfully deflected some of the hostile glare on to itself. Adjournments,disruptions,sulks and boycotts appear to have become the rote reflex for India’s principal opposition party. While the government has brazenly stonewalled on many matters,the BJP has,equally often,chosen to make a scene rather than grill the UPA in Parliament and extract accountability. Its latest announcement,that it will have no truck with the speaker or the parliamentary affairs minister,could mean that it has all but disengaged from the legislature,that it is now in screensaver mode until the Lok Sabha election. If it is so convinced of its case against the UPA,and so unwilling to do business with it,why doesn’t the BJP move a no-confidence motion?

The tenure of UPA 2 has been marked by corruption scandals and serial political miscalculation. Instead of artfully working with the popular discontent this might have generated,the BJP has reacted in the same excitable and under-thought way since October 2009,when investigations began into the allocation of 2G spectrum. An entire session of Parliament was stalled in 2010 on the question of a joint parliamentary committee to probe the 2G decisions. It has maintained the monotonous high pitch ever since,stalling consecutive sessions for one reason or another,be it on FDI in retail (marking,incidentally,a 180 degree turn from its rhetoric on the issue while in power) or after the CAG’s report on coal block allocation,on price rise or in the name of black money. On black money,it took its agitation to the streets and into the TV studios — all the while turning away from the House.

Certainly,the BJP is not solely responsible for the drift in Parliament. But it must bear responsibility for actively squandering session after session instead of using the opportunity to discomfit the government while carrying out necessary legislative business. According to estimates by PRS Legislative Research,since 2009,one in five bills passed has seen less than five minutes of debate in the House. This general budget was debated for a mere 11 hours — an all-time low for parliamentary engagement. The BJP must realise that important legislation is pending in Parliament,bills that matter greatly to the people who elected it to the House.

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