Senior journalist Neena Vyas joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the non-functioning of Parliament.
Q. Has non-functioning of Parliament diminished PM's & Govt's image? Asked by: sri
A. Sri, Yes, sadly, not only the Prime Minister and the Government but also the opposition and the entire country stand diminished. Please see that our neighbour Pakistan is struggling to bring back to life a functioning Parliament.
Q. Is Parliament becoming irrelevant? Asked by: vinny
A. Vinny, I fear there are certain forces bent on making Parliament irrelevant. A sure recipe for fascism and anarchy and chaos. This diabolical design not just of opposition parties but others like Anna Hazare as well who practically issued ultimatums to Parliament. If Parliament were to become irrelevant so would the people of India. After all, we elect parliamentarians.
Q. If the parties who disrupt the parliament on one pretext or the other think that they would get the cooperation from opposition when they come to power, it seems they are living in fools paradise. The session should be extended for the same number of hours which it has lost and that should be without any compensation. Asked by: S ESHWAR
A. Eshwar, I do not know how the Congress might behave when in opposition. Maybe we will soon find out. But the misbehaviour of current opposition parties cannot and should not be an excuse for the Congress or whichever other party may find itself in the opposition's chair the next time around. I believe it is time the chairs in both the Houses use the rule that allows them to send unruly members out for the day, a week or even an entire session. A few members cannot be allowed to usurp the privilege of all the other members.
Q. Is the arrogance of both Cong and BJP responsible for non-functioning of parliament. Asked by: Rajendra Kulkarni
A. Kulkarni, I do not which party is arrogant and which is not. Surely, there has been a breakdown of communication between the ruling and the opposition parties. The issue is the opposition always has the right to get a government dismissed through a no confidence motion. Take the current impasse. It is a Budget session. The opposition can force the government out by not voting in the Budget. It could also bring a no confidence motion. But clearly, the opposition is not ready to face an election just as yet. The BJP has a problem with the JD (U) on the issue of Modi's prime ministerial ambitions. The Trinamool Congress is not in a very good shape and the Left would like to give Mamata more time to discredit herself. The Samajwadi Party also needs to recover lost ground as a result of various acts of goondaism and small communal flare-ups. Ms, Mayawati would like to give the SPO more time to ruin its own chances. The list can go on. In short, none of the major players are yet ready for an election. So why this circus in Parliament?
Q. Has anytime in the history of India, such disruptions and so frequent adjournments the norm? Do you recall any particular instance? Asked by: Sasi
A. Dear Sasi, I do not have the statistics with me. But yes, the winter session of 2011, I think it was, was a complete washout. We still have some time left of the Budget session and hopefully MPs will discuss the Finance Bill instead of rushing to vote it in through din and noise. The opposition parties have the right to discuss issues like the JPC leaked report on 2G or the standing committee report on coal allocation. But, on the very first day of this session in the Rajya sabha the chairman said he was willing to suspend Question Hour to take up one issue at a time. Opposition members from various parties raised all kinds of irrelevant points of order and wasted time instead of getting down to the job of pinning the government down. Who lost in the process?
Q. You aid the opposition is not ready for an election. is that an excuse to indulge in large scale corruption? do you have the count of corruption cases against the UPA? Sheila Dixit and co? Asked by: Vinod
A. Dear Vinod, of course, there can never be any excuse for corruption. But in that case the opposition parties together can vote the government out so that we can have a new government after a fresh election. What other option is there? Did the Election Commission not wait for full five years before holding the election in Karnataka despite the large scale corruption and several ministers going to jail? By the way, I do think that murder is more heinous than corruption and two of Modi's ministers went to jail - Kodnani after being convicted and Amit Shah who is on out on bail. But the people in their wisdom chose to reelect Modi. Delhi election is scheduled this year-end. Only a few months left and Sheila Dikshit will face the public.
Q. How do you think the 2014 elections are going to play out? I just pray Modi does not come to power. Asked by: Aniket Banerjee
A. Ankit, the next general election is a year away. Very difficutlt to guess how it will play out. But the BJP by its own admission is not in very good shape. It has not been able to find a toehold in three states in South -- Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Kerala. It is practically zero in West Bengal too and haslost ground in Orissa. In UP its fortunes have yet to show signs of revival and even in the 2009 election it had almost peaked in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh. So where will it get enough seats to go past the majority mark? This is not to say the Congress is fit as a fiddle. It won over 200 seats in 2009 and I will not be surprised if it were to lost 40 to 50 seats this time around. That will give us a hung Parliament. The Left is busy trying to work on a Third Front but we all know such a Front will need support of either the Congress or the BJP. And will be inherently unstable. Past experience tells us that India may have to go through some unstable times.
Q. Why doesn't the speaker not exercise her powers to suspend unruly members. I remember reading a rule which says mere entering the well or showing placards entails instant suspension of members. No one cares about this rule. Even media has overlooked it. Media should question the speaker and not the ruling party and opposition for this humongous waste of public money. Asked by: bhaz
A. Bhaz, I agree with you the time has come for the Speaker and the Chairman to exercise their right to throw out of the House unruly members. A non-functioning Parliament is too heavy a price for the country to pay to appease a few loud voices in Parliament who simply want to catch the next days headlines. I for one believe if we do not restore a functioning Parliament, it will go that way most state assemblies have gone -- they meet for just a day or two each session, and that is also true of Gujarat as much for UP and some other states This would mean that the opposition will not be able to hold the executive accountable. This has already happened in the states where chief ministers do what they please and refuse to listen to voices from the opposition. A non-functioning Parliament can only lead us to authoritarian rule and even chaos.
Q. Is Paralysing Governance The Right Way Of Expressing Dissent? Asked by: leena
A. Leena, Paralysing any institution is wrong and will not yield the desired results. We all know there are long delays in the judicial system. We need to correct this. But will it help to stop the Supreme Court from Functioning at all? The government may not be working the way the people want it to. But not allowing Parliament to function makes no sense. Next we will say why have elections for elections are meant to choose parliamentarians. And if they simply do not believe in allowing Parliament to function they should not be contesting at all. The rules of parliamentary procedure offer many ways of censuring the government, seeking answers to questions, throwing the government out of office through a no confidence motion and so on. Imagine the situation if not government is allowed to work by an unruly opposition. Should we do not nothing but hold elections every six months? Even Rajiv Gandhi with a huge mandate was not allowed to function towards the end of his tenure. And what did the Bofors inquiry yield? Nothing. Remember in the 1989 election V.P. Singh then then messiah against corruption said he had the names and bank account numbers of the guilty persons in the Bofors scam. What happened after he became PM? Nothing.