On April 12, BJP MPs will observe a day-long fast to protest Parliamentary disruptions by Congress.
“From 5 March to 27 March, why did the Congress not allow business to happen?” questioned Union minister Ananth Kumar.
“On 15 and 16 March, the YSRCP and TDP motions of no-confidence were brought up. Congress brought it up on 27 March? Why did they bring it up so late?” he continued.
This budget session was the worst Parliament has witnessed in almost two decades – Lok Sabha worked for 21% of its scheduled time, while Rajya Sabha worked for 27%. So far in the 16th Lok Sabha, the average productivity of Lok Sabha is 85%, and that of Rajya Sabha is 68%, says a PRS report.
Stalled Parliamentary sessions cost the country at least Rs 190 crore, per a report in The Financial Express.
Helpless BJP with majority seats in the Lok Sabha and being the largest party in the Rajya Sabha decides to fix Parliamentary impasse with a Bhookh Hartal.
Earlier, the finance minister, ignoring the clamour created by the rowdy Congress, had no problem passing the crucial Finance Bill in 18 minutes – 21 amendments to 18 Acts passed in 18 minutes with no participation of any lawmaker. The Finance Bill normally contains tax proposals but it was passed as Money Bill containing the murky FCRA that made illegal donations received by political parties legal.
Amidst the chaos, FM Arun Jaitley also passed the Appropriation Bill. Through this Bill, the government asks permission from the Parliament to use taxpayers money from the Consolidated Fund of India. Permission was granted with no debates, no discussions.
BJP passed laws it deems important. Discussions on matters of public importance didn’t make the cut. This session saw the lowest number of non-legislative debates since the beginning of the 16th Lok Sabha. The issue of irregularities in the banking sector in the wake of numerous scams was listed for discussion. But it wasn’t taken up.
During the budget session, the upper house examines the functioning of various ministries – Drinking Water and Sanitation, Home Affairs, Culture, and Food Processing Industries were listed for discussion. However, none were taken up.
For the first time in the history of independent India, a no-confidence motion remained hung in the Lok Sabha. With BJP’s majority, passing the test of no-confidence would not have been difficult for the party. The Opposition is very well aware of this and its intention was perhaps not the fall of BJP but to put the ruling party’s administration under the scanner. But the Speaker’s decision to disregard the no-confidence motion on grounds that Congress, TDP and YSR Congress disrupted sessions throws poor light on the Indian Parliamentary system.
Now, PM Modi with his 270+ MPs has decided to fix the Indian democracy by fasting. It’s ironic that a Prime Minister who once regarded fasting or any forms of dharnas anarchy is himself leading his ministers for an andolan.
Do watch @narendramodi 's view on Dharna and Anshan in 2015 |
the same Modi who termed these things as 'anarchy' is going to go on a hunger strike against the opposition for disrupting the parliament | pic.twitter.com/fGGA5Yjfof
— Roshan Rai (@RoshanKrRai) April 10, 2018
One wonders what BJP wishes to achieve out of not eating for a day. Will the Parliament start doing what it’s supposed to – make laws beneficial for the well-being of citizens?
When BJP was the party in Opposition, it viewed Parliamentary disruptions important. “Not allowing Parliament to function is also a form of democracy, like any other form,” the leader of Opposition during the UPA regime Venkaiah Naidu had said.
“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,” was Arun Jaitley’s opinion on Parliamentary disruptions.
Jaitley regarded not working as work too.
So, what changed?
BJP switched places with Congress. Now, instead of actually fixing the Parliament, the party is victimising itself, portraying the Opposition as the Big Bad Wolf coming after the little girl in the saffron hood.
What can BJP do instead of fasting?
For starters, encourage debates and discussions. This is solely why the Parliament exists. India is not a one-party state where a single party has the right to make laws.
BJP and many of its NDA allies had earlier announced giving up salaries for the disrupted part of the budget session – a move in the right direction, considering the amount of taxpayers’ money wasted in brawls between our lawmakers. However, this isn’t enough.
The BJP could have all-party meetings to provide a platform for the Opposition to voice their concerns. There could be a regulation to penalise violating MPs – those who intentionally stall sessions.
The Parliament is the foundation of our democracy. It is the responsibility of both the government and the Opposition to keep the Houses running. Fasting won’t solve matters, same as praying to God for good marks doesn’t; actually studying does.