Sunday, November 28, 2021

Parliament – An Exercise In Governance Or Anarchy?

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Nupur Chowdhury
An eccentric writer of quirky tales, who likes reading, writing, talking, shopping and singing tunelessly in the shower.

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Night view of the Parliament of India in New Delhi
By PradeepGaurs/ Shutterstock

Parliament, being an essential part of the Government, is by definition a governing body, burdened with the task of debating, discussing and deciding on issues that affect the nation as a whole. It is in the business of making key policy decisions and enacting reforms and laws that could make or break this great country.

As such, it is quite extraordinary that the Parliament should ever be accused of anarchy. Anarchists, by their very nature, are unfailingly anti-establishment, whatever other motivations they may or may not have. Parliament, a key feature of the aforementioned establishment, should have no reason to subscribe to or sympathise with such a philosophy, that hacks at the roots of its own existence.

Which is why Indians might be forgiven for being bewildered and flabbergasted at the events that unfolded on their television screens during the Monsoon session of Parliament. The vicious cat-fight (I can think of no phrase that more accurately describes the happenings than this one) that took place between the ruling party and the opposition would make any veteran reality-show contestant blush with embarrassment. Who needs Bigg Boss and Splitzvilla, when we can just watch Parliamentary debate on Doordarshan? Ordinarily, such a declaration by any teenager would make his teachers proud, until they had been witness to such a debate themselves, of course.

Congress party member burn effigies and demand resignation of Sushma Swaraj
By Saikat Paul/ Shutterstock

From Sushma Swaraj blatantly shrieking abuses at Rahul Gandhi, upto and including slurs on his family, to the latter leading what can only be described as mobs of frenzied men to block the proceedings of Parliament, our ministers seemed to leave no stone unturned to turn their place of work into a rather unpleasant circus performance – all that was lacking was a an elephant jumping through hoops.

Protests against what the Opposition sees as corruption within the ruling party are not just acceptable but very welcome. It is of prime importance that the Foreign Minister be held accountable for her blatant favouring of Lalit Modi, a known fugitive from Indian law, and thereby undermining the authority of her own country and its courts before foreign powers. Likewise, there can be no doubt about the fact that the parties responsible for the deadly Vyapam scam must be apprehended and convicted as soon as possible. Ms. Swaraj’s contention that her actions are justified because they are cancelled out by Rajiv Gandhi’s similar favouring of fugitives such as Warren Andersen during the Bhopal Gas Tragedy rings hollow for the simple reason that, even if everything she said were true, two wrongs do not make one right. Just because one criminal escaped justice does not mean that we should empty our prisons and set all criminals free. As such, if the Opposition feels that the Government is dragging its feet when the time comes to deliver justice to one of its own, it is not only their right but also their responsibility to oppose such blatant corruption and partiality.

The disagreement between the Congress and the people of India comes not from their ideology, which is perfectly sound, but from their execution of this ideology. Forcibly blocking the normal functioning of Parliament, turning it into a spectacle of hooliganism rather than a functioning Government body, delaying the passing of essential laws and policy reforms which they had themselves campaigned for when in power just a few months ago, is not the way to protest against corruption. To the unbiased observer, it seems as though the Opposition is more concerned with stopping the Government from passing any pertinent laws or policies, rather than in getting justice for the victims of Vyapam or holding Ms. Swaraj accountable for her indiscretion with regards to Lalit Modi. Of course, we must not forget that this insidious tactic of blocking Parliamentary process for petty squabbles was, until last year, practised by the ruling party itself, when it was part of the Opposition. Is it some kind of twisted poetic justice that the BJP is now getting a taste of its own medicine? If the fate of the country was not hanging in the balance, we might have had cause to cheer. As it is, though, like Gandhiji once said: ‘An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’.

Even a child should know that causing chaos and dysfunction is not the way to solving problems – it just leads to greater problems. Problems are solved and decisions reached through debate and discussion; which, incidentally, is exactly what the Parliament is for – debate and discussions. By blocking the natural functioning of Parliament, the Opposition is throwing a massive spanner in its own works – if at all their goals are what they declare them to be. If the Opposition’s sole purpose is to disrupt the working of the Government, on the other hand, we must concede that they are doing a fantastic job of it. None of the major policy reforms, such as the GST (General Sales Tax) Bill, that should have been completed a long time ago are anywhere near a conclusion, and the country is made to hang in limbo while our politicians perform their juvenile cat-fights for gaining momentary spotlight. What befits Kim Kardashian does not befit the top lawmakers of the world’s largest democracy. Sometimes, our politicians seem to forget that.

About the author

An eccentric writer of quirky tales, who likes reading, writing, talking, shopping and singing tunelessly in the shower.

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