DC Edit | Driving Opposition away from Parliament will solve nothing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi never misses an opportunity to proclaim to the world that India is the mother of all democracies and the idea runs in its blood, but back home in Parliament, a place that is hailed as the temple of democracy, his party and the government it leads do not appear to care about what makes a democracy what it is — the Opposition.

Almost the entire Opposition has been suspended from both Houses of Parliament for the rest of the sessions during the Winter Session in three instalments, the latest being the ouster of 49 on Tuesday for raising the demand that either the Prime Minister or home minister Amit Shah make a statement in Parliament about the serious breach of security that occurred in the Lok Sabha last week. As it stands today, 95 of the 157 Opposition members in the Lok Sabha have been suspended while the number is 46 out of fewer than 100 in the Rajya Sabha. The remaining non-NDA members are mostly from the government-friendly YSR Congress Party and the Biju Janata Dal.

The members have been sent out for disruption of the House, including breaking the rule that they should not bring in placards. The government and the respective chairs of the Houses may demand that the members go by the rules but what defies logic is sending them out for the whole session for a day’s violation of the rules.

It has been democratic convention that the government explains to the members, and through them, to the nation the government’s position on important happenings in the country. It is the necessary condition for a functioning democracy that the government remains accountable to the citizens; it is not enough that the ministers go to them only during the elections. Democracy is a process of constant dialogue with all stakeholders.

There now emerges a pattern in the government’s response to critical national issues — to shun Parliament and shirk accountability. The government steadfastly refused to respond to the ethnic strife in Manipur when the constitutional machinery collapsed in the border state and the government failed to protect lives. Till today, the nation does not have before it an assessment of the Union government of what has happened in Manipur and what it proposes to do there to take the state and the people back to normalcy.

The Prime Minister has indeed talked to a television channel on the security breach in Parliament, but that is simply not enough. In fact, a new sense of hubris has enveloped the ruling alliance where it mocks the Opposition for the election loss in three Hindi heartland states. Mr Modi is on record advising the Opposition ahead of the Winter Session not to vent its desperation over the election loss in the House. It doesn’t behove the Prime Minister even to suggest that election loss can lead to desperate acts, for he comes from a party which was in the political wilderness for quite long.

It is time a government which vouches by the democratic traditions of the country behaves in a democratic manner, takes the Opposition and the people into confidence and address national concerns upfront. Running away from Parliament or driving the Opposition away from there won’t solve problems.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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