DC Edit | Birla no role model as Speaker

To say that the people of India wanted a stronger Opposition in the Lok Sabha and voted accordingly in the last general election would be stating the obvious. The idea is that pressing issues related to the people which the executive would want to overlook or sweep under the carpet be brought to the nation’s attention so that the government needs must attend to them. That it would require an Opposition push even for a willing government to act is the reality, given the pressure under which our executive functions.

But this democratic mechanism will work only if the Lok Sabha Speaker, the custodian of the rights of members, acts in a non-partisan manner with alacrity, doing justice to his exalted position. However, the way Mr Om Birla has conducted the business of the Lower House in the last edition and in the beginning of the new one does not meet expectation. That he presided over the en masse suspensions of the Opposition members and allowed key bills to be passed in the last House hardly added to the prestige of his office.

And it appears that the character of the 18th Lok Sabha with a much stronger Opposition component reflecting the mood of the nation has not changed him much either. This is unfortunate. His reading of a statement on the Emergency, undoubtedly a blot on Indian democracy, can be interpreted as an expression of concern and a reminder against the abuse of constitutional provision, but the way the Prime Minister and the ruling party latched on to it clearly gives out the impression that the Speaker was playing a part in a script that the ruling party had penned. Equally unacceptable, too, was his stoic comment that he controls no button when Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi’s microphone went silent as he was raising the issue of irregularities in the Neet-UG medical entrance

The people of India have spoken. The Speaker should help amplify their voice, and not smother it altogether.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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