In many ways, the Economic Surveys of the NDA government have tended to be more honest documents than Budget speeches, especially with the sleight-of-hand of budgetary and economic figures.
While finalising the themes and essays for my newly published book Inside Parliament, I considered an idea about how bogus numbers, rather than bogus ideas, were now the preferred propaganda tool.
My first political book, “Inside Parliament: Views from the Front Row” – a compilation of essays on parliament, policy and contemporary political issues – will be in stores from November 24. The essay you are about to read didn’t make it to the book. Actually, the urgency of the matter is playing out before us in real time. If my book were to have come out in six months’ time, this essay would definitely have been included.
Watching Arvind Kejriwal’s speech at Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds shortly after he was sworn in as chief minister, I was glad he tempered the overenthusiasm and too-keen ambition of some of his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) colleagues. Running a government in Delhi was his priority, he said. He cautioned against any “arrogant” attempt to expand the party’s footprint and contest elections in several other states.
Parliament is a great place to contemplate, deliberate and legislate.
During the Budget Session of Parliament, I received many opportunities to raise concerns on meaningful subjects.
Here are the links to videos and transcripts.
When I mentioned it to him, a well-meaning political friend urged me not to touch the subject or write about it. “Beef is a sensitive issue,” he said, “it has religious connotations. And you are a Christian…”
After President Pranab Mukherjee, it is now Speaker of the Lok Sabha Sumitra Mahajan who has cautioned against the repeated and knee-jerk use of ordinances. Speaking at a conference in Lucknow, she said, “Ordinances should be kept to the minimum as far as possible. They have a very limited life and need to be passed by Parliament to become a law.”
The recent by-elections in West Bengal, for the Bongaon parliamentary seat and the Krishnaganj assembly seat, resulted in big victories for the Trinamool Congress. They established the trend, evident in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and subsequent by-elections, that Trinamool remains the dominant party in the state. However, the CPI(M) is slipping rapidly from its second position and ceding ground to the BJP. Of course, both these parties are too far behind Trinamool for us to be seriously worried.
All day several friends have called to ask why the West Bengal tableau was missing from the Republic Day parade in Delhi. The absence has particularly disappointed and hurt a lot of us because West Bengal had won the award for the best tableau in 2014.
It was a weekend in early August and I found myself watching an NDTV programme anchored by Barkha Dutt. One of the studio guests was an articulate young lawyer called Navdeep Singh. He spoke about how pension claims of disabled soldiers, those who had lost limb or suffered injury in the service of India, were often contested by the Ministry of Defence. In fact 90 per cent of the legal cases being fought by the Ministry related to disabled soldiers and their pension claims.