AA Edit | Let Opp. use Parliament as debate platform, not stall it

If Opp. thinks it can stop the govt from going ahead with its policies by stalling parliament, they must disabuse themselves of such notions

Parliaments are supposed to be platforms for discussions and debates by representatives on issues that pertain to their electors, and the nation. Opinions and pieces of information are presented on the floor which help all stake-holders, governments and the citizens, take appropriate decisions.

An appraisal of the functioning of our Parliament of late would, however, reveal that it has not been compatible with this basic idea and that it has reduced itself into a platform for acrimony, instead. There were far too many occasions in its recent history where both the Opposition and the government would stick to their obstinacy and the sessions get washed away with no solutions found on issues pertinent to the electorate. The government, in the melee, gets Bills passed with its brute majority with little or no debate, failing the very idea of parliamentary oversight of executive’s doings. This has been true about the UPA and the NDA irrespective of whether they were in government or in Opposition.

A welcome break was noticed on Tuesday when the Opposition joined the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President’s address to the joint session in both the Houses. It has been demanding in and outside the House the formation of a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the allegations of government’s collusion with Adani Group as levelled in the report of the US shortseller Hindenburg. In normal course, the Opposition would go on insisting on their demand and the government would not concede, resulting in chaos.

As a result of the Opposition joining the proceedings, both the Houses, and the country at large, got an opportunity to listen to its side of the case. The Prime Minister, against whom the allegations were made, replied also. and that should have helped the people come to a better understanding of the issue on hand.

There is an argument that the Opposition must refuse to cooperate with the government if the latter goes about conducting business disregarding its genuine concerns. There are several such instances even in recent history and the Opposition, after seeing no signs from the government of a concession, ensured that parliamentary proceedings are stalled. This is a self-defeating strategy on many counts: they miss the opportunity to inform people about the issues they raise while the government can propagate its version through its captive channels; they fail to stop the government from going ahead with its business, for the Speaker has a responsibility to ensure that the government’s business is transacted.

If the Opposition thinks it can stop the ruling party from going ahead with its policies and programmes by stalling parliament, they must disabuse themselves of such notions. Constitutional bodies such as Parliament and judiciary work within their own limits and cannot stop the politics of the day. They can offer resistance to a limited extent when the executive breaks its limits but there is only so much that they can do. Politics in a democracy is decided among the people, and the Opposition feels they need correction in the government’s course, they must reach them using all avenues. Parliament is one such important avenue. It will be better for the Opposition to make use of it, instead of wasting it.

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