The bitter truth behind BJP’s deafening budget silence

March 23, 2011

To some, the parliamentary walkout by India’s opposition prior to the vote on the country’s annual budget motion marked the failure of India’s ruling Congress party to engage with its primary adversary, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over its claims that the Prime Minister had lied to parliament to protect his own reputation.

To others, the sight of BJP leader Sushma Swaraj leading her MPs out of the chamber as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee prepared to deliver the most important parliamentary bill of the year encapsulated the sorry state of India’s increasingly bitter partisan politics that show no signs of repair since trumpeting corruption became the opposition’s raison d’etre.
Lawmakers and leaders of India's main opposition alliance led by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) including Sushma Swaraj (front, L) and L.K. Advani (front, R) attend a protest against rising prices wearing aprons with protest slogans inside the premises of the Parliament House in New Delhi REUTERS/Stringer(INDIA)
Swaraj would later tell The Hindu that her walkout was to avoid disrupting the passage of the bill, but the damning point rang out loud and clear: the opposition had decided the corruption drumbeat was more important than the budget.

Mukherjee had earlier pleaded with senior BJP leaders to allow the budget to be debated prior to any discussion on a parliamentary privilege motion submitted against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by Swaraj, promising a two-and-a-half hour debate on the issue after the budget had passed.

But as the budget was given precedent over the privilege motion, out trooped the opposition in protest, leaving a half-empty chamber to pass the bill that will keep the country financed on April 1.

India’s parliament was paralysed in November by opposition protests demanding an inquiry into allegations a minister had lost the exchequer up to $39 billion in a telecom spectrum scam, which eventually resulted in the entire winter session being abandoned. Since it reopened in February, after extensive negotiations between Congress and the BJP, various protests from the opposition over other corruption charges have resulted in adjournments and cancellation of parliamentary business.

With a slew of economic reforms seen crucial to India’s continued growth momentum gathering dust as MPs exchange insults and chants across the floor of both houses of parliament, the partisan politics that have turned India’s much-vaunted parliamentary democracy into a slanging match between government and opposition risk ruining far more than just the reputation of the primary belligerents.

2 comments

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Sometimes I feel there should be a law against these parliamentary walk outs. At the very least, the walking out members and political parties should be billed for the taxpayers money lost because of these actions. Most often they walk out because they are not capable of healthy discussion and find the “drum beat: the easy way out.

Or may be with the changing times and technologies, we should perhaps do away with the elaborate parliamentary sessions and pass the motions on email or SMS. Will save time and money.

Posted by Windturner | Report as abusive

India is witnessing the most corrupt and arrogant government meeting the most week and divided opposition. The prime minister says on the floor of parliament that he is not aware of most of corruption charges and opposition has not been able to put enough pressure on president to get the governmnent adjourned or at least sack the current PM. Soniya has broken all records in corruption that were set by her mother in law back then. God save us!!

Posted by 007XXX | Report as abusive