India Insight

Disruptive opposition blames government for parliament woes

April 25, 2011

A lack of accountability from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a failure of consultation by his ruling Congress-led coalition and too few days of legislative business, rather than opposition protests that smothered months of legislative debate, are to blame for the paralysis of India’s parliamentary democracy, the leader of India’s opposition party wrote on Monday.

Arun Jaitley

Making no reference to the weeks of protest by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that saw opposition members shouting, chanting and waving placards in the well of both houses to force the cancellation of an entire legislative session and threaten the passage of the 2011-12 budget, Arun Jaitley called for more “proper conduct” from Indian MPs in an opinion piece in The Indian Express that appeared to lay the blame of parliamentary disruption at the government’s door.

“In the last few decades the participation of prime ministers in parliamentary debates has declined. Their effective intervention is confined to reading written texts prepared by their offices. This is unacceptable… The PM has to be the most accountable in a democracy. His depleting presence in Parliament compels one to suggest (the British system of Prime Minister’s Questions) be successfully replicated in India,” Jaitley wrote.

Reticent Singh is typically media-shy, but a slew of corruption charges against his party compelled him to hold a rare press conference live on national television in February, where he vowed he would not step down despite increasing pressure from Jaitley’s party.

“To meet for less than 70 days in a year is inadequate. Short durations lead to paucity of time available for debates, issues of public importance and legislation. When members, particularly from the opposition, want to raise several issues, the privilege is denied for paucity of time. The gagging of debate leads to obstructionism. Parliamentary obstructionism then becomes an acceptable mode to highlight an issue of public importance,” Jaitley wrote, without making reference to the BJP protest of parliament.

“The government and the opposition both have a key role to play in Parliament. Conflicting opinions and at times even tensions between the two bring out the best in Indian democracy. However, there must be healthy communication between the political leadership in government and the opposition,” Jaitley continued.

“Of late, there is a decline in this consultation. The initiative for this consultation must come from the government. This consultation has to be real rather than formal. It is for the government of the day to consider whether the decline in this consultation is deliberate or attributable to the introvertish character of the UPA’s political leadership.”

Time will tell whether Jaitley’s words signify a shift in the BJP’s approach from noisy demonstrators to legislative partners, or merely mark a new salvo in the deepening trend of bitterly partisan mud-slinging.

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

the article looks more like a speech from Mr. Jaitley then by the writer. I hardly see anything from the writer, its mostly an extract from Jaitley’s speech

Posted by pmehta | Report as abusive
 

A few days ago it was an extensive quote from the TOI newspaper. To-day its from the Indian Express.

I fail to understand the purpose of such posts if there is no analysis of the substance therein. Quoting from newspapers of the day and placing them here will not help start a discussion. Those who wish to discuss this, at least in India, do so on the Indian Express site anyway.

Would appreciate if there is an opinion given on the news and that opinion can then be discussed here on this blog.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive
 

Government has a responsibility to see parliament runs smoothly irrespective of conditions prevailed. I think as a citizen the Government utilizing opposition protests as an opportunity to evade issues in the parliament.

Posted by ssnraju | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •