Parliament a factory to pass bills under the Modi government. The suspension of opposition MPs proves it
TThe repeal of the three agricultural laws without any discussion in parliament and the suspension of 12 opposition MPs show how the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to remain on the warpath, reluctant to follow the fundamental principle of a parliamentary democracy that calls for engagement with everyone.
The pride of the massive mandate has meant that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains confrontational, undemocratic and prone to bulldozing its way. The decision to repeal farm laws may have seemed like the government was ready to listen and give in, but the way the repeal shows how stubborn and arrogant it remains.
The problem does not come from the decisions of this government. It is neither the first nor the last government to make controversial decisions. It is about how decisions are made, excluding all other stakeholders. If democracy gives you the mandate to govern, it also gives you the responsibility to govern democratically. Something the Modi government seems to have forgotten.
Read also : I want Oppn’s unity but it won’t be nobody’s stamp, says TMC amid fight with Congress
The unsavory start
Barely a day after the start of the winter session of Parliament, and the opposition is already crying, and rightly so. The government, despite much criticism for passing the three contentious farm laws without adequate debate or discussion, has chosen to repeal them in the same way.
Even if repeal were the main opposition demand, any significant movement in parliament should be preceded by discussions and commitments, regardless of its acceptability or the government’s mandate. The whole idea of ââparliamentary debate is to ensure that key issues are discussed and that each stakeholder has a say. If the opposition wanted to discuss the issue of minimum support prices (MSP), then it was the government’s duty to have allowed it.
Here again, the suspension of 12 opposition deputies for the duration of this session for “misconduct” during the last session of Parliament breathes vindictiveness and the desire to silence the voices of protest. Unparliamentary protests have no place on the House floor, and to that extent, action against misguided MPs is not bad. But it was the disproportionate amount of action that angered the opposition and raised questions about the government’s fairness and intent.
Read also : Unprecedented, according to the opposition, 12 deputies suspended for “misconduct” during the last parliamentary session
Old habits die hard
The Modi government has shown pride and disrespect for democratic and political niceties since coming to power in 2014. Ordinances have been its go-to crutch, starting with the dilution of the law on acquisition of lands, another move he had to bring back on.
All of its major moves – from demonetization to the repeal of Section 370, passing the Triple Talaq Bill or the Citizenship Amendment Act – have been one-sided and without adequate consultation or engagement with opponents. And these, of course, are just a few examples.
Yes, this government has the mandate of the people. Yes, there are difficult decisions to be made and the government feels entitled to do so. But no mandate, no matter how good, can silence the voice of the opposition and reduce Parliament to a factory for passing bills instead of a place for constructive deliberation.
That the opposition does not project a united front in the House is an irrelevant question and rather a political argument. It is not for the opposition to defeat the government. It is incumbent on the party in power to play by the rules, to give the opposition its due and to engage with it.
The arrogance of his tenure and Modi’s massive popularity has overshadowed everything else for BJP. He could still win the next election just like he won 2019 because he has a lot to offer. But winning an election cannot be the only way out for a leader or a party that wants to establish its stature in a democracy and create a legacy.
By reducing Parliament to its playground and an arena where it can display its power, Narendra Modi’s BJP is doing a huge disservice not only to democracy or the country, but to itself.
Opinions are personal.
(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)
Subscribe to our channels on YouTube and Telegram
Why the news media is in crisis and how to fix it
India needs free, fair, uninhibited and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media are in a crisis of their own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, giving in to crass spectacle in prime time.
ThePrint employs the best young reporters, columnists and editors. To maintain journalism of this quality, it takes smart, thoughtful people like you to pay the price. Whether you live in India or abroad, you can do it here.
Support our journalism