Paralysis of Indian parliament and democracy!


Paralysis of Indian parliament and democracy!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

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Politics in India is a very highly profitable business where both the ruling and opposition leaders mint money, where MPs and MLA thrive by taking huge bribes and promoting crony capitalism.

The Hindutva leader Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which came to power  with a  unprecedented mandate and  now occupying most of the seats in the parliament (Lok Sabha)  seriously believes it has a prerogative to do whatever it wants , including corrupt operations by ministers and, therefore, expects the expects  the opposition parties led by Congress party which ruled India  for many years,  making  the nation among the most corrupt  states  around.

Indian parliament now controlled by BJP, increasingly becoming arrogant, has remained crippled for days.  The Congress and the Opposition want Lalitgate accused Sushma Swaraj to go without a discussion or preconditions just as the way the BJP wanted many of the UPA ministers to resign while it was in opposition during the last decade. Resign first, discuss later – was what the BJP had told the UPA then.

Today, the Congress is paying back in the same coin. “What we have said is that there will be no discussion without resignation. Sushma has done a criminal act,” is Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s refrain.

This is perhaps a stunning example of BJP’s contradictory political behavior in different situations: the party that disrupted the Parliament the most in the last five decades is now crying foul that the Opposition Congress is not allowing the house to work. The cavalier manner in which it had brought the last Lok Sabha to a historical low seems to have evaporated from its self-righteous memory as it accuses the Opposition of “undemocratic” behavior.

BJP ransacked parliament several times over corruption and other issues got a few Congress ministers removed. External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and HRD minister Shashi Tharoor are two important Congress men who lost jobs in Manmohan government that promoted corruption.

It seems the BJP has least respect for Parliament. After the first eight sessions of Congress led UPA I under Manmohan Singh, the “sitting time” lost to disruptions had reached an all-time high of 38 percent. The 15th Lok Sabha, with UPA II government, was the crowning glory of the BJP in disruption of the Parliament – at 61 percent, its worst productive time in Indian legislative history. During the same period, the record for Rajya Sabha (Upper House) was equally dismal – 66 percent. Compared to 297 bills during the 13th Lok Sabha, when the BJP-led NDA was in power and Congress in opposition, the UPA II could pass only 179 out of its planned 328 bills. Several serious pieces of legislation such as Direct Taxes Code, Micro Finance Bill, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, Women’s Reservation Bill, and the Bill enabling the introduction of Goods and Services Tax just lapsed. What was more tragic was that 60 per cent of the question time was wasted by the BJP-led acrimony.

It’s so ironic that it was the same Swaraj who as opposition BJP leader in 2005 wanted the Parliament to stop and an FIR to be filed against the then External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh for his family’s alleged involvement in the famous “Oil for Food” scam in Iraq. Although he was close to Sonia Gandhi and the evidence against him was still preliminary, he was axed within a couple of months and was finally eased out of the party before the ED and a judicial committee began investigations. But both Swaraj and the BJP are now amused when Rahul says that she has done a criminal act and she deserves to go to jail.

In February 2014 during UPA II, the same Swaraj again justified her party’s relentless acrimony in the Parliament. She raised so many Congress government scams; a new one came up in the interval of every session. The government wanted MPs to set them aside and let the parliament go on. BJP said it had to stall the parliament to expose the government and its corruption.

What the Congress says now is also the same – sack Swaraj, Vasundhara and Chauhan before any investigations. Swaraj may recall that she hadn’t relented one bit when Sonia and Kamal Nath tried good manners with her as Narendra Modi is trying with the Congress and other opposition leaders now.

The Congress can quote to BJP’s Arun Jaitely’s justification of the pandemonium in Parliament during UPA II: “If parliamentary accountability is subverted and a debate is intended to be used merely to put a lid on parliamentary accountability, it is then a legitimate tactic for the Opposition to expose the government through parliamentary instruments available at its command.

Maybe, the Congress is perfectly in its right to pay the BJP back in full because it was the latter that has progressively lowered the bar for legislative disruption. That its conduct was touching a new low was clear in the opinions of many statesmen and experts on democracy. Parliamentary system of governance is on the verge of collapsing. The Session The r proceedings and outcomes clearly showed that parliament has been dismal failure. It was one adjournment after another on issues of trivial importance. Several mornings just about all the members were on their feet shouting at each other. Most of the MPs prefer to stand in the Wall.

The BJP’s parliamentary conduct has plumbed new depths and the nation agonized over the plunging standards of parliament. The party has been behaving like a bad loser, disrupting Parliament with a gusto unbefitting the main Opposition party. It might have been possible to be good-humored about the BJP’s zest for disorder had the party not been persistently offensive to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. That the party’s big two did not participate in the unedifying spectacle has turned out to be illusory relief.

BJP has now borrowed the Delhi ruling AAP strategy in New Delhi in staging demonstrations. BJP MPs got a message from the party that they would have to reach Parliament early to stage a dharna at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi, a strategy generally adopted by Opposition to protest against government. On July 24 morning, BJP party MPs assembled at the protest site in the complex holding banners which said “Parliament should function”, “Sonia, Rahul shame shame, scams and scams in Congress states” and “Sonia, Rahul tell us where the corruption money has gone.”

This was part of the ruling side’s aggressive brazen it out tactic, as Parliament remained paralyzed for the fourth day. The total time lost so far in Lok Sabha is 94 per cent and in Rajya Sabha 88 per cent. The maximum time lost in Lok Sabha since 2009 was 94 per cent in the winter session of 2010, when the then BJP-led Opposition’s demand for setting up a JPC to examine the 2G scam stalled business.

The ruling party protest drew potshots from Opposition, which has been demanding resignations of BJP leaders facing the heat in the Lalit Modi and Vyapam issues. “Why was the ruling party sitting on a dharna? Who were they making their demands to? Were they making their demands to God?” JD-U leader Sharad Yadav asked. BSP supremo Mayawati said “rather than hold dharna, demonstrations, the government should take action against people who have violated norms.” Aam Admi Party’s Kumar Vishwas tweeted “the government is sitting on a dharna outside Parliament. May be their demand is to US President Obama.”

It appears, the Modi government would let the session get washed away and blame the Opposition for it, and use it in the Bihar poll campaign underway now. Javadekar said his party is hopeful that collective wisdom would prevail and the Congress would realize its mistake. Javadekar said Opposition protests could mellow down by next week, but asked what his hopes were based on, he said “optimism”. He castigated Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Swaraj and sought an apology from him. “He crossed all limits of decency…. The language he used nobody uses. We still refer to them as Rahulji, Soniaji…. He said Modi’s silence will help. We say the more he speaks the more it will help us.” Union minister Nitin Gadkari has threatened to file a defamation case if Gandhi did not apologize for saying that Swaraj had committed a criminal act by helping Lalit Modi.

The treasury’s eye for an eye strategy has failed to tame the Opposition, which refused to budge from its demand for resignations of external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

It looks the BJP emboldened by thumping majority in the parliament, does not want to yield to Congress pressure tactics and Modi or BJP would not  readily drop the CMs and central ministers unless court orders for that.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to sidetrack the corruption charges leveled against his ministers and CMs and he said on July 26 in his monthly radio program avoided BJP’s muddy politics or the logjam in Parliament at a time when Parliament is unable to function because of a deadlock with opposition demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over various controversies.  After talking about ‘kisan’ (farmer), he spoke about the ‘jawan’ (soldier) on the Kargil Vijay Divas, celebrated on Sunday as a day of victory against Pakistan in the three-month conflict in Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999. He paid tributes to the armed forces that   successfully silence freedom seeking Kashmir by attacks, and hailed their valor and sacrifices for the nation.

The BJP is no stranger to double-speak. Whether it’s on secularism, communal riots, nuclear deal, FDI, or black money, it’s always armed with two convenient stock versions. Most of its leaders can instinctively speak with a forked tongue. What’s on display now is its double-speak on corruption, impropriety, ethics and parliamentary decorum. By exposing it, the Congress has nothing to lose.

Indian regime is not at all bothered about corruption particularly at top level which is ruining India. Instead of helping the poor in the country, India keeps buying security bonds abroad. New Delhi is fascinated by its heavy purchase of US bonds. India increased its exposure to US government securities by $31 billion in the first five months of the year, taking the overall holdings to $114 billion in May. This is also the highest level of holding by India in more than a year.

Observations

 

Independent India has a long list of corruption scams and not even one was pursued to its logical conclusion or the guilty punished. It is because of the regime interference in the judiciary to shield its favorites. Anyway, the rulebook that the parties and the parliamentarians ought to go by has long since been thrown to the wind. Now, it’s payback time for all those years starting with the Bofors days, as we sit back and watch with absolutely no amusement.

 

The BJP appears to be in contact, as usual, with Congress party to somehow divert the attention of the public from its corrupt mindset. The Hindutva mother RSS that often mediates between the senior most parties BJP and Congress is also caught in between, not knowing how to save BJP government.

Neither nation nor its parliament nor democracy is important to Indian politicians. Paralysis is symbolic of a valueless, sick polity in India. Politicians want money and wealth while the ruling party assists corporates, rich and corrupt elements in the nation. That is why the Modi government uses his power to shield Lalit Modi, and his ministers.

Like Congress, BJP also promotes capitalism, corporate lords, corruption and cricket. There is absolutely no chance the guilty gets punished – except, of course, the Muslims. Indian government, led by BJP or Congress, still view Muslims as “suspected anti-nationals” though they are placed slightly better than Kashmiri Muslims whom India cannot trust and can only  oppress.

In fact, even while scams are debated in Indian media and people’s attention is focused on them, Indian military boys target Kashmiris for their blood and after killing some of them as a routine matter, the media are informed that the Indian forces killed the Pakistani terrorists in Kashmir.  Indian corporate lords put more money in US banks for use by USA.  This explains why US presidents cannot see what is happening Kashmir.

Meanwhile, dramas continue to dominate the parliament proceedings and media debates as usual. As parties settle scores in the Parliament resulting paralysis has weakened democratic fabric of India!

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