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The politics of disruptions

Written by  लीड इंडिया, Mail Us: Published in Sports Wednesday, 18 July 2012 10:20
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It has been 11 working days and both Houses remain disrupted. There are another nine working days to go, and given the impasse, an immediate resolution doesn’t appear to be on the horizon

There is a lesson from the ongoing failure of the monsoon session of Parliament. Till there is a clear link between how one performs in Parliament and the votes one gets in elections, politicians will not change the way they approach their role as legislators. It has been 11 working days and both Houses remain disrupted. There are another nine working days to go, and given the impasse, an immediate resolution doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. There is a possibility that the session — the first full session since March 2020 — will not see Parliament perform its core role of deliberative lawmaking, holding the executive accountable and articulating citizen-centric issues.

The immediate trigger for the impasse is the Opposition’s demand for a discussion and enquiry on Pegasus, and the government’s reluctance to do so. This newspaper has argued that it would be productive to have a discussion on Pegasus — the issue goes to the heart of Indian democracy — and then pursue other legislative business. There could well be other mechanisms to resolve the impasse too. But the question is why the government and the Opposition have not invested enough energy in resolving what is really not an intractable issue? And that goes to the question of incentives.

For a government that enjoys a majority and can get its legislative agenda through even amidst a din, the functioning of the House does not make a material difference to its objectives. Non-functioning allows it to evade hard questions. For the Opposition, the ability to disrupt, make a noise, even snatch papers from ministers (as a Trinamool parliamentarian did) seems more politically advantageous. They think this allows them to come across as belligerent and aggressive. For members of Parliament (MPs), on both sides, who would like the House to function, there is little room to generate pressure because their incentive lies in proving loyalty to the party line. But at the core of it, MPs know that what they do — and do not do — in Parliament will not affect their electoral prospects. Attendance, questions asked, interventions in key debates hardly figure in the heat and dust of electoral battles. And therefore, till parliamentary performance becomes a parameter in how citizens judge their representatives, India’s parliament will continue to see bursts of productivity interspersed with bouts of disruption. Democracy is the loser. Source : ht

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