BJP – as well as Congress – has only ad-hoc views on parliament disruptions
GN Bureau | March 3, 2016
Prime minister Narendra Modi, replying to the debate after the president’s address, once again called on the opposition to cooperate in pushing ahead parliamentary business and pending legislations. Modi quoted former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee at length to underline his point: that parliament must be allowed to function even as all debates and discussions are welcome on the floor.
A skilled rhetorician first spoke of the need to let parliament function – and then slyly added, “This is not an advice from Narendra Modi, but from former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi” – much to the discomfort of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi sitting across him.
Modi, of course, would not have quoted his own colleagues, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, who as leaders of opposition in the two houses during the UPA years, ensured parliament remained paralytic for record periods.
Just to recall, here are two quotes representative of the BJP argument:
Sushma Swaraj, on September 7, 2012: “Not allowing parliament to function is a form of democracy like any other form…”
Arun Jaitley, on January 30, 2011: “Parliament’s job is to conduct discussions. But many a time, parliament is used to ignore issues and in such situations, obstruction of parliament is in the favour of democracy. Therefore parliamentary obstruction is not undemocratic.”
Now, this is not to argue that Swaraj and Jaitley were indeed right back then. However, as long as Modi quotes non-BJP leaders and does not offer a word of regret over BJP leaders’ earlier remarks and behaviour, there can be little hope for bipartisan cooperation. With a historic majority under his belt, Modi has an opportunity to rise above the partisan lines and set a new precedent of government-opposition cooperation.
Possibly in a first step in that direction, Modi repeatedly underlined that the long-pending GST bill was, after all, “your” (that is, UPA’s) bill. Possibly as a grudging handshake offer, Modi has given up on the ordinance route that he relentlessly used in the first year of his government.
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