oppn parties Parliament or Theatre of the Absurd

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oppn parties
Parliament or Theatre of the Absurd

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2015-09-25 12:33:50

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
An entire session of Parliament was wasted. Leave alone what the nation lost in actual money terms, the loss to the nation’s economy has been immense. There were several important bills, including the GST, that were to be debated and perhaps, passed. But the opposition, mainly the Congress, found this an opportunity to pay back the BJP in its own coin and prevented any business from being conducted. Now, the GST bill is sure to miss its 1st April 2016 date for after passage in parliament, it will need to be passed by more than half of the states too. It is a long drawn process and takes six months or more.

Two things emerged from this session. One, parliament is increasingly becoming a place to settle political scores and these are being settled through personal attacks. These attacks are also crossing all boundaries. The MP’s are resorting to hooliganism â€" shouting slogans, carrying placards, tearing up and throwing assorted papers and rushing to the well at the drop of a hat. While these may seem accepted tactics to them, a young and aspirational India finds them amusing at one level and repulsive at another. Young and educated Indians are increasingly questioning these tactics. The time has come when the political parties â€" all of them, without exception â€" should find another way to raise and settle political points. Parliament should be left alone for the purpose it was designed â€" to conduct legislative business in an orderly manner, with informed debates and civilized speeches. Parliament should be spared from becoming a theatre of the absurd.

In the instant case, the Congress could have resorted to boycotting Sushma Swaraj in Delhi and Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Chouhan in Rajasthan and MP respectively. It could have gone to the streets to demand their resignation. It could have started a people’s movement for the same, organized rallies and generally used all democratic methods available to highlight its concern about corruption and their involvement in corrupt practices. But the urge to show the BJP that it could do to it what the BJP had done to it is so great that the Congress does not want to think differently. Paralyzing the parliament to grab maximum eyeballs has been the mantra of all parties and the Congress, despite having been the worst sufferer of these opposition tactics (for it has ruled the country for the longest time) has chosen to blindly follow the same. It was a wonderful opportunity for the party to tell the voters that despite a crushing defeat, it was not going to stoop to the level of the BJP and other opposition parties of yore. But it is foolish to expect such magnanimity from a party that is still licking its wounds and is increasingly becoming irrelevant in most states.

Two, it is wrong of the opposition to say that the Modi government is a government installed by corporate India. As the logjam in parliament was proving difficult to break, several business leaders, alarmed at the fate of GST and others bills impacting the economy, spoke to the media about finding a way around it and getting legislative business done. Sharad Yadav and other opposition leaders immediately pounced on it to repeat the charge made famous by Rahul Gandhi â€" that this is a suit boot ki sarkar. Apart from being an insult to the millions of voters all over India who voted for the NDA, the charge implies that any Indian government can be bought over. Each government has its own agenda. The agenda of socialists and Congress had been to subsidize everything and announce pro-poor schemes. They fail to see the failure of these schemes as they stand. There have been huge leakages and crony capitalism has thrived. The Modi government wants to change this into a development driven agenda that would bring about prosperity. It does not wish to discontinue the pro-poor schemes. Instead, it wants to plug the leakages to introduce direct cash transfers. To think that rapid development through industrial and infrastructure projects will bring prosperity only to the rich class is retrograde thinking. The fruits of development benefit the nation. The only people who will suffer from this are the ones who have made it their business to deny the poor their share by cornering the benefits mean for them.

If parliament is not allowed to function and if politicians continue to think in retro fashion, India is not going to achieve double digit growth. Perhaps most politicians in India are satisfied with the so called Hindu rate of growth. Perhaps most of them want to keep the poor on empty stomach. For people on full stomach ask too many questions â€" and the politicians do not like that. But they forget that, to use a phrase made popular by a TVC, hunger acche accho ko badal deta hai. Revolutions also happen when people are hungry. The fires are fanned when people see the antics of supposedly socialist leaders shaking their well fed pot-bellies in parliament.