Winter Session a test of our polity

The first two days of the session are to commemorate the adoption of the Indian Constitution

The Winter Session of Parliament that commenced on Thursday will be a test of our polity on many counts — foremost of government’s flexibility and willingness to start with the Opposition on a clean slate — but also of the temper of the Opposition, whether it can build on the spirit of the recent Bihar result and produce an alternative political discourse, without failing to offer support to the government in the spirit of national economic management in getting through measures like the goods and services tax (GST) when its voice has been given due recognition by the government.

In particular this applies to the Congress, although its numbers in the House are modest. The party’s ability to network with other parties, construct a plank of firm opposition to the government, while not becoming a professional nay-sayer, will be watched with interest. Up until the recent Monsoon Session since it took charge in May last year, the Modi government has generally been abrasive with the Opposition, on the strength of its Lok Sabha majority. It tried to work through the ordinance route in order to rebuff its opponents. This was evident in the case of the land acquisition measure. Soon it became clear that the strategy was unproductive. Therefore, government managers now speak of consultation with the Opposition. It will soon be clear whether this is real or ornamental.

The first two days of the session are to commemorate the adoption of the Indian Constitution. In the light of repeated communal incidents, attacks on and murder of rationalists, and frenzied communal observations from ruling party MPs, ministers and now the Assam governor, government representatives have sought to twist the terms of engagement. This became apparent recently after the film icon Aamir Khan spoke of a sense of insecurity among the minorities, and came under attack by the ruling party. This was hardly the best way to allay anxiety at the start of a Parliament session. The stock official reply, playing out over the past three months nearly, is that India is a tolerant society. But this has never been in doubt. What’s in doubt is the government’s inaction on the ground in the face of the communal virus, and its failure to pull up ministers and high-profile BJP members when they spew poison against the minorities.

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( Source : deccan chronicle )
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