It was a flaccid start to Parliament’s Winter Session, with some Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha ritualistically demanding to know why their colleague Farooq Abdullah was not present in the House. This was evidently a baiting tactic to revive a discussion on Kashmir, but with the Opposition unable to bring gusto to the proceedings, the government swatted away the charge of the ultra-light brigade with ease.
The Congress is clearly preoccupied with other issues, like the political developments in Maharashtra which might yield government formation there at the BJP’s expense. Its former chief Rahul Gandhi, who is now capable of pungent interventions in the House, was absent, apparently not back yet from his meditation tour. This itself says much.
The government faced no trouble on any count, but the alarm is growing over the economy. After creating fear and panic over its promise to apply the National Register of Citizens to every state, the government renewed its commitment to bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, a necessary accompaniment to the NRC in furtherance of the communal agenda. The Opposition parties gave few hints in the Lok Sabha that they plan to mount a challenge.
The Rajya Sabha’s 250th session was inaugurated on Monday and Prime Minister Narendra Modi seized the opportunity to urge the government’s opponents to eschew tactics that block discussion and deliberation. Thankfully, former PM Manmohan Singh gave a rejoinder with pithy points, saying the deliberative aspect of Parliament depended greatly on parliamentary committees, where members usually engage in open discussions. He regretted that in the 16th Lok Sabha, only 25 per cent of bills were sent to committees for discussion by the government, against 71 per cent in the 15th and 60 per cent in the 14th Lok Sabha.