By K.N. Pandita
Parliamentary opposition is the soul of democracy. It is out of great debates in the parliament that a government draws inspiration and direction to run administration. The parliament is the strength and the hope of the nation because it is this institution where national aspirations converge for fruition. A parliament is the fountain head of collective wisdom, for, as proverbially said, its decisions will do no harm to the nation. Elected representatives to the parliament of the world’s largest democracy also carry the largest responsibility of delivering the goods. Our law makers are sanguine about it.
But then why the culture of dispute rather than debate does seem to have its way in our parliament? The law makers are aware that the country is waiting for some serious legislation that will have far-reaching impact on the lives of ordinary people of the country. Even the Prime Minister made an appeal to the law makers to let the session proceed smoothly because some crucial business, especially in the economic sphere, had to be transacted and bills had to pass into Act.
In a preemptory decision the NDA, with the largest strength in opposition, announced boycott of Home Minister’s speech for the reason of his alleged involvement in 2G scam. It would no listen to him if he rose to speak in the session, and demanded his resignation. That is precisely what their parliamentarians did when the Home Minister rose to reply some questions pertaining to his ministry. Though BJP stalwarts averred they had no intention of disrupting the proceedings of the session but blocking the Home Minister is tantamount to virtual blocking of the proceedings. The 2G Spectrum scam is being investigated by the Supreme Court. Casting aspersions on the Home Minister without substantial proof is stretching the matters too far. He has a right to speak and moreover he is answerable to the parliament. He is to be listened to as any other member in the parliament. But making a judgment and chartering a course of action without initiating a debate on the issue and without allowing him the opportunity of substantiating his position is hardly a democratic and justifiable way of an astute parliamentarian. The entire nation is disappointed with the incredibly large scams that have been unearthed during recent past. It has ventilated its resentment against corruptions and the Indian civil society has emphatically conveyed its message to one and all. That has galvanized the organs of the state into action. The executive has had to respond and the judiciary exercised its powers in strict conformity with the law of the land. The fourth estate, namely the media, left no stone unturned to bring to public gaze whatever malpractices were suspected. This all set forth the process of accountability in right earnest. In this background, there seems little justification of announcing a boycott of Home Minister’s intervention in the parliament. If the NDA allowed the Home Minister to explain his position, it could have resulted in breaking the stalemate. The house, including the NDA group, would have either found itself convinced of what he had to say or would have found bigger loopholes in his statement to subject him to further and final scrutiny.
In a democratic dispensation, a party/group may be in opposition today but it can be in power tomorrow. This is the interesting aspect of democracy. Therefore a certain culture of conducting the business in the parliament evolves in the process. The essence of that culture is cooperation and not confrontation. Its first requirement is of overcoming anger and obsessions. Making wild accusations may sound bizarre but failure to substantiate the accusations makes a mockery of parliamentary debate. The nation would be very happy if the parliamentarians avoided that situation. Even harshest criticism can be leveled and strongest words can be used but all of this will be acceptable only as long as the ultimate purpose is to serve national interests. We have seen how the previous session of the parliament was disrupted and urgent legislation got deferred. Parliamentarians should realize that the country is passing through a historical era of development; it is struggling for stepping out from age-old evils of poverty, economic deprivations and social disadvantages. We have still to wipe out tears from the eyes of our poor people. A challenging role awaits us on national and international level. Let us sink small differences and complaints and work together for this great and historical country to take its rightful place among the comity of nations.