ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

What Did India Really Get from Latest Parliament Session? Only Chaos & Confusion

The just-concluded session marked a new low in relations between the Modi government and the Opposition.

Published
Opinion
5 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large
Hindi Female

Angry protests, constant disruptions and prolonged slogan-shouting by enraged Opposition members have, over the years, become a regular feature of Parliament. And the recently-concluded Monsoon Session was no different. These same scenes were enacted once again in both Houses as a belligerent Opposition went on the warpath both inside and outside Parliament to press its demand for a discussion on price rise.

The government resisted initially and though the debate did take place eventually, the noise and the fury refused to die down. The unprecedented suspension of as many as 23 opposition MPs from both Houses did not help in bridging the gap between the two sides. As a result, this session recorded the lowest productivity since 2019 and was adjourned two days before schedule.

Snapshot
  • Angry protests, constant disruptions and prolonged slogan-shouting by enraged Opposition members have become a regular feature of Parliament. And yet, this session was different. It marked a new low in the relations between the Modi government and the Opposition.

  • There was little evidence of any genuine attempt being made by the Modi government to broker peace with the Opposition during the monsoon session.

  • While Opposition parties have undoubtedly resorted to extreme steps, it seemed the Treasury was deliberately pushing Opposition parties down this road to be able to discredit them.

  • That Modi has no patience with Parliament and Parliamentary proceedings has become fairly evident over the eight years he has been in power.

  • Now that the BJP is comfortably placed in the Rajya Sabha, the government does not feel the need to give in to the Opposition or care for the process of collective consultation.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

This Was a New Low

Of course, this is not the first time that Parliament has witnessed disruptions, and it will certainly not be the last, irrespective of which party occupies the Opposition benches. In fact, late Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley had famously remarked that disruptions are a legitimate tool available to the opposition to pin down the government and seek accountability from the executive. In 2010, when the 2G scam came to light, the entire winter session was disrupted by the BJP. Similarly, protesting BJP members did not allow former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to introduce his Cabinet colleagues in Parliament when he took office in 2004, nor could he deliver the customary speech to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President.

And yet, this session was different. It marked a new low in the relations between the Modi government and the Opposition. The growing trust deficit between the two has made it not only difficult but almost impossible for them to reach out across the aisle and hammer out a compromise.

No Attempts at Brokering Peace

So far, it was accepted that the government of the day would “allow” the Opposition to protest and disrupt proceedings in the opening week, after which the two sides would sit together and work out the business for the coming days, which was invariably a combination of discussions on issues as demanded by the Opposition and the government’s legislative agenda. The government’s troubleshooters and floor managers made a serious effort to open channels of communication with their political opponents to ensure the smooth functioning of the two Houses.

However, this is no longer the case now. There was little evidence of any genuine attempt being made by the Modi government to broker peace with the Opposition during the monsoon session. There appeared to be no scope for a meaningful dialogue between them as both sides upped the ante.

The fight became increasingly personal, more so after a host of Opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi, were called for interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The manner in which the BJP toppled the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra and the targeting of Shiv Sena leaders has only added to the tensions.

0

Attitude of the Govt Is Also to Blame

While Opposition parties have undoubtedly resorted to extreme steps to make themselves heard, the attitude of the government, which shoulders the responsibility for the smooth functioning of Parliament, further ensured that the chaos persisted. In fact, it seemed the Treasury was deliberately pushing Opposition parties down this road to be able to discredit them and project them as disrupters.

With both sides engaged in one-upmanship, Parliamentary democracy has been dealt a severe blow. The Opposition’s demands for discussion on key current issues, such as the contentious farm laws, Pegasus spyware, the stand-off with China, etc, have been generally ignored, while Bills are passed without discussion amidst chaos.

This state of affairs can be attributed to the Modi government’s sustained effort to undermine Parliament, reduce the role of the elected members and convert Parliament to a forum solely for the passage of legislation. This is the template adopted by most Chief Ministers, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was a three-time Chief Minister of Gujarat, is no exception.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

A New Building Won't Help

That Modi has no patience with Parliament and Parliamentary proceedings has become fairly evident over the eight years he has been in power. He is seen and heard in Parliament only when his presence is absolutely necessary. At the same time, it is the government’s constant endeavour to circumvent procedures. Important Bills have been converted into Money Bills to avoid scrutiny by the Rajya Sabha, the ordinance route has been adopted far more frequently as compared to earlier governments, while Bills are not referred to standing committees for detailed scrutiny.

In the run-up to the 2020 monsoon session, the Modi government promulgated as many as 11 ordinances, including the three controversial farm laws. It also did away with question hour in that session on the pretext of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The subsequent winter session was called off for the same reason, eliciting an angry protest from the opposition but to little avail.

When Modi took over as Prime Minister in 2014, the ruling alliance did not enjoy a majority in the Rajya Sabha. As a result, the government had to tiptoe around the Upper House to push through its legislative agenda. But now that the BJP is comfortably placed in the Rajya Sabha, the government does not feel the need to give in to the Opposition or care for the process of collective consultation.

Now that the curtain has come down on yet another tumultuous session, the last to be held in the old Parliament building, only optimists can hope that the ‘Vaastu’ of the new building and the venue of the next session will help improve relations between the government and the opposition and prove more conducive for a healthy debate.

(The writer is a senior Delhi-based journalist. She can be reached at @anitaakat. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author's own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Read Latest News and Breaking News at The Quint, browse for more from opinion

Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
3 months
12 months
12 months
Check Member Benefits
Read More
×
×