New Delhi: The Budget Session of Parliament has been set in motion with the President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the join sitting of the two houses Tuesday.
Budget session, in one sense, is the most important session of Parliament as the government presents its economic and financial vision and spriorities on the floor of the two houses. The government has to seek parliament's approval for all its expenses and that's one reason why the lower house, where the government of the day enjoys majority, has been given authority to override the objections of upper house as far as money bills are concerned.
The government of the day usually does not face any challenge in getting money bills in Lok Sabha owing to its majority and Modi government has brute majority in the lower house but it's equally important for members of the both the houses to discuss and debate the initiatives taken by the government. The opposition in the Rajya Sabha can't stop the passage of money bills but it can definitely add value by putting forward its valuable suggestions.
All this is possible only if the parliament functions smoothly without any disruption. This is easier said than done given the fact that the last two sessions, Winter Session and before that the Monsoon Session, were reduced to complete washouts.
That's why President Pranab Mukherjee while addressing the joint sitting of the two houses today reminded the political leaders that Parliament is a place for “debate and discussions” and not for “disruption or obstruction”. The statement of the President underlined his apprehensions of the opposition parties repeating their obstructionist approach this time as well.
The question is – will the opposition parties pay heed to the sane advice rendered by the President of India?
Do our MPs and their leaders need to be reminded time and again that they have been elected to ‘discuss and debate' and not to ‘disrupt or obstruct' as the President rightly pointed out?
This is not to say that the ruling party has no role in ensuring smooth functioning of the parliament. In fact, the onus actually lies more on the ruling party to ensure that they take into account the genuine concerns of the opposition and try their best to resolve the differences.
To be fair to this government, they displayed their willingness to discuss issues in the parliament in last two sessions. Even this time, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu has clearly said that the government is ready to discuss every issue including the contentious JNU row.
However, the signs emanating from opposition parties do not inspire confidence. After the customary all-party meet before budget session, the opposition has accused the government of “setting the agenda for disruption”. And it gives enough hints for things that are likely to follow in this session.
The opposition looks all set to fiercely raise issues like sedition case involving JNU students, Rohit Vemulla's suicide, Jat reservation etc and they have every right to do so but let them do it in a way that is in line with the spirit of our democratic set-up.
The problem arises when political parties and their leaders willingly allow themselves to become prisoners of history. The Congress is not ready to allow passage of GST bill because the BJP, when in opposition, had not cooperated with them on this bill. That they don't see anything wrong in disrupting the Parliament because the BJP had also done the same thing when it was in opposition.
How can we ignore that this “tu-tu-main-main”between Congress-led opposition and BJP is doing a great disservice to the development of the country. Should our political leadership, both ffrom ruling party and opposition, not display statesmanship and forget the acrimonies of the past? Should they not join hands to resolve serious issues bothering different sections of the society- from students and labourers to farmers and businessmen?
Members of Parliament must be reminded that huge amount of money is spent on the functioning of the two houses. Under no circumstance, tax-payer's money should be wasted by continuously disrupting the parliament.
The opposition has every right to question the government, censure the government if they have committed any mistake, make them answerable if they are not fulfilling their electoral promises but all this can be done only through civilised debate and discussion. Disruption is never an advisable option in parliamentary democracy.
Interestingly, political leaders don't mind discussing issues, including those which are most contentious, on TV channels but they refuse to discuss the same on the floor of the parliament. Is it not an insult to the mandate of the country and expectations of the common man? Let our MPs think over it- calmly and sincerely.