STRAY THOUGHTS AFTER THE WINTER SESSION By Arun Jaitley
The Winter Session of Parliament has just concluded yesterday. The Winter Session gives rise to a few legitimate thoughts which I must share.
On Parliamentary Democracy:
Parliamentary Democracy has been India’s foremost strength. Different shades of political opinions, regions, States, communities, tribes, all find their way in the decision making process in Parliament. Parliamentary protests are not unheard of in India. In extreme cases there are precedents of disturbance in the past. But the last two sessions have witnessed a clear stand of the Congress Party that Parliament shall not be allowed to function. Most of the congress leaders, in private, have expressed helplessness over the decision of their leadership that Parliament must be disturbed continuously. The moot question which arises for the Congress Party is, ‘how does India legislate?’ The Standing Committee mechanism which worked exceedingly well since 1993, has been weakened in the Rajya Sabha, by the House repeatedly appointing Select Committees, questioning the opinions of the Standing Committee. If this tendency continues, a successful institution of Standing Committee could be hurt. The Government, therefore, has adopted an alternative option of a Joint Committee to consider the Bankruptcy Law. There are other options being suggested, such as to pass legislation without a Standing Committee or drafting laws in a manner to fit them into the definition of Money Bills. The latter two are not preferred options. The Congress Party leadership must seriously explore that its disproportionate and irrational approach in dealing with Parliament is hurting institutions. If Pandit Nehru can be credited in the initial years of our democracy of having laid down of healthy precedents being established, the current generation in control of the Congress Party will find a place in history of having weakened what their ancestors established. Has the country not lost out by delaying the GST since the last year’s Budget Session? How far is it desirable to pass important legislations on the last day without discussion? Statistically, we have passed a law. But has Parliament applied its mind to the law?
Is vulgarity the new norm of Indian politics? I hope not.
Some months ago a few Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party made statements which were not appreciated even by the Party. The Party President cautioned them and advised them to refrain from making such statements. The result of the caution are visible.
What about the statements made by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi about the Prime Minister and others, both inside and outside Delhi Assembly? If any functionary of the Government of India were to use such language, it would witness a nationwide outrage. People in positions are expected to act with restraint. They cannot be outlandish. Vulgarity is not a right available to them. The political discourse cannot be couched in vulgar language. Falsehood delivered with vulgar overtones is not a substitute of truth. Lumpenisation of public discourse can never be high point of politics. Functionaries of the Delhi Government and its supporters have lowered the level of political discourse. They rely heavily on general falsehood without ever stating the specifics. The Aam Aadmi Party’s success in Delhi seems to have misled the Congress Party that vulgarity brings votes. Indian public opinion has a sense of fairness. It is time that public opinion expresses its outrage against the lowering of the level of public discourse.