Government MPs Paralysing Parliament is a dubious new record

A Day in parliament.

11 am: Chairman of Rajya Sabha and Speaker of Lok Sabha walk in. Statutory requirement, government papers are tabled.

11.04 am: All BJP MPs stand up and start shouting the same slogan (disruptive scene).

11.15 am: House adjourned.

The same sordid sequence has played every day of this Budget Session. Under the leadership of Messrs Modi and Shah, the BJP has set up a dubious new record in parliament. Members from the Treasury Benches (certainly not the opposition) are deliberately disrupting the functioning of parliament. I wouldn’t be surprised that for the ninth time in a row, a session will end earlier than scheduled. You read that right. Nine times in a row, in a period of three years, the BJP has been skittish about facing both Houses of parliament. Let me also stick my neck out and predict that the current session will also be aborted ahead of time.

Ten days into the session, the BJP has figured that it is losing the perception war and is being seen as the party that is responsible for the disruption. To cover up, they are now making fake offers of compromise at informal all-party meetings called by the presiding officers of both Houses to break the logjam. When a government wishes not to be held accountable to parliament, the simplest tactic is – run away. Do not allow parliament to function so opposition parties cannot raise even one of the seven issues listed below. 

1. LIC-SBI fund risk at Adani 

LIC and SBI are institutions in which millions have deposited their life’s savings. Many other investments into the Adani Group of companies have raised serious questions. It’s plain and simple. The BJP government does not want this imbroglio to be discussed. So, what do they do? Paralyse parliament. 
In this government-manufactured deadlock of parliament, the Trinamool has made a constructive suggestion to all non-BJP-led state governments – conduct a fair investigation in their respective states to get to the truth about this raging controversy. 

2. Squeezing states of funds 

There are multiple examples across states run by non-BJP governments. Let me share one glaring example. The Union owes states ₹ 10,000 crore under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, out of which over ₹ 5,000 crore is owed to Bengal alone. 

3. Price Rise 

A domestic 14 kg cooking gas cylinder now costs ₹ 1,103 in Delhi. From ₹ 706 in April 2019, it is a staggering increase of 56% in four years. In the top seven cities, housing rentals rose by 20%-25% in 2022 compared to pre-pandemic levels. India’s retail inflation accelerated to 6.5% in January, above the RBI’s upper tolerance level of 6%. This was mainly due to a rise in prices of cereals by 16% year-on-year, and milk and eggs by around 9%. 

4. Unemployment 

The unemployment rate in the country increased from 7.1% in January this year to 7.4% in February. This means over three crore people in India are unemployed. More alarming is the fact that almost one out of every three persons between 19-29 years, armed with a graduate degree, was unemployed in 2021-22. 

5. Misuse of agencies 

The CBI, Enforcement Directorate, and Income Tax department are being brazenly used to hound opposition party leaders across states. Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Raut, Saket Gokhale, K Kavitha, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi, to name just a few. 

6. Women’s Reservation Bill 

The 2014 BJP manifesto stated “…the BJP is committed to 33 per cent reservation in parliament and state assemblies through a constitutional amendment.” The same electoral promise was also made in the 2019 manifesto. It has been nine years, and still no Women’s Reservation Bill. 

7. Strengthening national borders 

The Ministry of Home Affairs increased the jurisdiction of the Border Security Force from 15 km to 50 km from the international borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh in the states of West Bengal, Punjab and Assam. It also reduced the jurisdiction in Gujarat from 80 km to 50 km. 

These issues need to be robustly discussed on the floor of parliament. Sadly, when you turn on Sansad TV at 11 am to watch the proceedings of parliament, you will see the same sordid visuals. MPs from the ruling party shouting slogans. Paralysing Parliament. Or brazenly shutting it down before schedule. 

[This article appeared on | Wednesday, March 22, 2023]