Since March 16, when the Telugu Desam Party and YSR Congress gave notices for a motion of no-confidence against the Narendra Modi government, little transaction has taken place in the Lok Sabha. The Speaker, Sumitra Mahajan, has taken a firm stand that unless the House is in order she will not allow the motions to be discussed. Since the beginning of the budget session, the Opposition has been disrupting proceedings in Parliament over different issues. On Wednesday, the speaker adjourned proceedings for the eighth day since the notices were given. As this newspaper reported, in all the Lok Sabha has spent a mere 16 minutes on the no-trust motion notices. Until the motion, the first against the Modi government, is disposed of, the House is unlikely to take up other matters for debate. In short, the functioning of the Lok Sabha has been in limbo for over two weeks.This can’t continue.
The Speaker’s anger is understandable: The Opposition seems unwilling to listen to her pleas to uphold decorum in the House. The Congress, TDP, Telangana Rashtra Samiti and AIADMK have all turned the Lok Sabha into an arena of protest with MPs shouting slogans and raising placards. These stalling tactics make it tough for the chair to allow House business. What is glaring about this episode, however, is the government seems happy with the logjam. There is little effort on the part of the treasury benches to restore order in the House and facilitate the proceedings. Since the Union Budget has been passed and other important bills cleared already, the government seems keen to let the session pass without discussions on any matter, including the no-confidence motion. The Speaker’s inclination to adjourn the House at the slightest provocation has only contributed to the impasse. It is facile to expect the Opposition to conduct itself in the House strictly by book, especially since the ruling coalition has the advantage of numbers. As is their wont, the Opposition, especially the smaller, regional outfits, will try to attract the attention of the government, and the nation, with actions that may look spectacular. The task of the government is to reach out to the Opposition and persuade MPs to raise their concerns in accordance with the House rules. The BJP used to argue during the UPA rule that the onus is on the treasury benches to take the Opposition along in Parliament. Why must it not follow this very sensible logic while in office?
Debate and discussion are essential features of parliamentary democracy. Besides, each minute of running the House when Parliament is in session is estimated to cost the exchequer over Rs 2.5 lakh; the frequent adjournments mean a waste of public money running into crores of rupees. It is time the government took the initiative to end the stalemate in the Lok Sabha.