Young India, this is your democracy. This is your parliament. These are your farmers. This is your future.
With every session, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is brazenly rewriting the rules of Parliament. Cancel Question Hour, so the Opposition isn’t given a chance to hold the government accountable. Slash Zero Hour time by half, from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, to deprive the Opposition of raising issues of importance. Misuse a constitutional tool such as an ordinance to mock Parliament, in a way it hasn’t been done in 70 years.
Scrapping of the Question Hour in parliament for the upcoming monsoon session is not the only parliamentary convention that the BJP-led government at the centre is subverting. They have set yet another dubious record. We are 450 days into the 17th Lok Sabha and the post for the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha is still vacant. This is the longest by far ever taken by a union government to fill up the post. What makes it all the more curious is that the BJP and the NDA have a comfortable majority in the Lower House.
As parliament is set to meet after a 6-month COVID-induced break, the session is likely to have many firsts. We have seen media reports citing government sources that say there will be large display screens, audio consoles, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, and working weekends. Judging by the feelers being sent out by senior ministers, one suspects that the government will use this pandemic to muzzle voices of the opposition in parliament.
Now is different than before. How long will now last? Is now here to stay? Till Puja? Or Diwali? Or Christmas and beyond? Did we think now would be like this? A world in which we would have to learn a whole new range of skill sets. A whole new way of living. An unfamiliar now. That’s taught us new ways to do things. New ways to work. New ways to communicate. New ways to even grieve. New techniques to master. New words to learn.
Rather than stand up for good journalism and take editorial positions on principles or policies, media companies and TV channels have mortgaged their channels to the ruling party and the government.
The point is simple. The forces that are seeking to displace Trinamool don’t just want to win an election, they want to fundamentally destabilise Bengal’s social harmony and tear apart its fabric. The inclusive and shared history of Bengal’s people is under threat from those who are “outside” of this culture. And this genuinely worries Mamata Banerjee. This is what makes the third great struggle of Didi’s political journey her most crucial. The years 2021 (assembly election) and then 2024 (Lok Sabha election) will write the future of Bengal. And Mother Courage herself is leading from the front.
India is in the midst of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s decade of governance. The previous time one party dominated for nearly 10 years was four decades ago, when the Congress had brute majorities between 1980 and 1989. In that period, the tussle for the rights of States was focused on Article 356. Using pliant Governors, regional party governments were politically destabilised. There was lip service paid to the report of the Justice R.S. Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations, but its spirit was twisted.
The Prime Minister’s speech on June 30 coincided with the inauguration of Unlock 2.0. This is the phase when government policy should gradually be making the transition from relief to repair – repair of the economy from the ill-planned lockdown.
June 25 marked exactly three months since the initial 21-day lockdown that began as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Announced at four hours’ notice, without consultations with chief ministers, the lockdown was Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi’s big solution to the greatest public health challenge of our times. The lockdown, however, has proven to be the biggest fiasco of our times.