One third of the Monsoon Session of Parliament is over without conducting any substantial legislative business. The hot and humid Delhi has become hotter and suffocating for the Modi Government inside Parliament. We have all seen how the Winter Session of Parliament had witnessed more pandemonium than productivity because of the conversion issue and notorious remarks of a Minister.
The credit for Parliament’s functioning and passage of bills during the Budget session goes to Congress as it respects the institution as a “responsible” Opposition.The adamant attitude and arrogance of the Government is once again failing the legislature during this Session. The party that disrupted the Parliament the most in the last five decades crying foul that the “obstructionist” Congress and the Opposition are not allowing the House and the Government to work.
The picture of the 15th Lok Sabha is still fresh in the memory of people. Frequent parliamentary disruptions led to Question Hour being held for 40% of scheduled time in Lok Sabha and 43% in Rajya Sabha. In the 15th Lok Sabha, disruptions by BJP MPs resulted in almost no parliamentary business being transacted in two sessions. The irresponsible manner in which it had brought the last Lok Sabha to a historical low, to be the most disrupted Lok Sabha during the last 25 years, seems to be suffering from amnesia or short term memory failure as it accuses the Opposition of “undemocratic” behaviour.
While saying so, the Government is not only absolving itself of all responsibilities of running the Parliament but putting the onus on the Opposition for its non-functioning. But, it is the parliamentary role of the Congress party in Opposition to ensure that the Government protects interests of the country and its people and it is run in an unbiased and transparent manner, its policies benefiting the last person in the queue.
Also Read – Parliament Logjam
The right to dissent is a fundamental requirement of democracy. This was the philosophy of our father of Nation – Mahatma Gandhi – that democracy is designed to be open to differing views and diversity of opinion. Participation of people is paramount in the democratic style of governance. Since ours is an indirect democracy, the citizens exercise their legislative rights through the representatives elected by them. It is the august duty of the elected representatives to protect the rights and interests of their electors.
Complex problems require complex solutions and complex solutions are never the product of a single mind. To take different points of view into consideration is one of the most important practices in the process of decision making and it is very helpful in the development of the democratic reconciliation. For complex solutions to emerge in any situation, there must be sufficient safety for the individuals within a group to voice divergent opinions and challenge the existing status quo. There must be sufficient calm and mutual respect for human cognitive function to work at peak efficiency and sophistication. As rightly said by Martin Luther King Jr, a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.
The Prime Minister instead of seeking consensus should come forward and build consensus. The task of Opposition becomes very difficult in the context of the issues before them which are primarily anti-people in nature. The prime responsibility of the Opposition is to protect the interests of the people in the House. Effective functioning of Parliament is a collective responsibility but to provide a conducive atmosphere for fruitful discussion, both within Parliament and outside it, is definitely the responsibility of the Government of the day. I do not think there is any issue that cannot be resolved if Government approaches the Opposition with genuine intent and in an open mind.
Yes, the Parliament should function and must transact business but for that the Government has to address the genuine issues raised by the Opposition as they are issues of public interest. Given the present context, the onus lies on the Government and its leaders to smoothly run the House. It can be only possible when the Government will shed its arrogance and stubbornness.
A combative government with no respect for Opposition is not a healthy attribute of a parliamentary democracy. The Government must reach out to the Opposition and welcome valid suggestions and concerns of the opposition, and the parties must work together in the interest of public welfare and in the spirit of a true functional democracy. Mexico is a good example for all of us to learn.
The major political parties in Mexico have signed a ‘Pact for Mexico’ committing consensual support to vital policies. Obviously, Opposition is also a stakeholder in the democratic process and they are equally concerned about public welfare. The Narendra Modi-led government must take a cue from Mexico by working with the Opposition intelligently, ensuring that reforms are adopted and implemented.