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Ruling parties playing vindictive politics

Ruling parties playing vindictive politics
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Ruling parties playing vindictive politics

Highlights

While Corona has left people scared and crippled the economy, it also has a positive side. It has helped people to focus more attention on clean body if not mind

While Corona has left people scared and crippled the economy, it also has a positive side. It has helped people to focus more attention on clean body if not mind. It has taught them to leave the footwear outside the door, wash hands and feet soon after entering the house since it cannot be done outside as it used to be the system in our ancient homes thanks to modernisation and apartment culture.

They have understood the fact that we move around so many different places. They may be unhygienic or lack cleanliness. So many germs and bacteria will enter into the body through the feet. Whenever we enter the house these may spread in the surroundings.

From people running from one place to another in the name of work pressure, coming home late, and going to parties and pubs in the name of recreation during weekends, they have learnt to be at home with family and be safe. It has helped them to bid adieu to the culture of saying hi and bye to their kids and has made them spend quality time with them.

It has also brought back the habit of reinventing the traditional cuisine at home and has pulled them out from the habit of rushing to a restaurant or a bandi wallah past midnight to eat idly or dosa or Maggi or omelette. This of course has affected the business of many that is a different issue. It has taught people to go back to the practice of washing vegetables before storing them in refrigerators. Covid also has brought back the habit of greeting people with traditional Namaskar.

All this is a welcome sign. But the Covid which has brought so many changes, does not seem to have had impact on the thinking or behaviour of the politicians. It does not seem to have had any kind of soothing impact on their nerves. The ruling parties continue to treat opposition parties with contempt and spare no efforts to suppress their voice of dissent under the guise of rules and regulations.

There appears to be no end to vindictive politics as well in many states. There is nothing called proactive interaction between the ruling parties and opposition. While the opposition feels that all acts of government are wrong, the government feels that opposition has pre-conceived notions and hence no point talking to them.

They feel that opposition can never be intelligent and they cannot give any wise suggestion. They forget their behaviour when they were in opposition and the kind of allegations they had levelled on the Chair or the ruling party then.

The recent assertion of the government in the TS Legislative Assembly and the remarks of the Chief Minister that Assembly is not a place for public meeting and that every member has to strictly abide by the rule and that time is allocated to them based on the strength of their party sounds a little harsh.

We have seen that in the two southern states, the newly formed Telangana and the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh, opposition was never permitted to express their dissent on any issue outside the Assembly. The party in power whether it be in Andhra Pradesh or here since bifurcation had put several restrictions on holding public meetings or taking out rallies by opposition.

Inside the house, the ruling party always wants to see that the opposition does not speak for more than couple of minutes even on a crucial issue listed for discussion. Rules must be followed. There can be no two different opinions on it. But there should be flexibility at certain times. That is part of effective and transparent public administration or what is known as governance. That is why the legislative bodies had given discretionary powers to the presiding officers.

A quick recall of the style of functioning of various Speakers in the last three decades from Balram Jakhar of Congress party to Sumitra Mahajan of BJP and to the present Speaker of Lok Sabha Om Birla, the practice has been to regulate proceedings of the house in a manner which are both fair and appear to be fair. But this level of fairness is not seen in many state Assemblies.

Interestingly, the ruling parties in States which say that the opposition members cannot demand more time during debates want their party to take on the Union Government in Parliament. The parties which say that legislatures are not places for public meeting want their members to protest both inside and outside Parliament and join hands with like-minded parties in protests.

This is the dichotomy which one cannot understand. I have seen any number of debates where the opposition with even two members in Lok Sabha was given reasonably extra time as long as the member was speaking on some important subject and if the presentation was not irrelevant.

The normal procedure in any legislature or Parliament is that the Speaker decides the time to be allotted to each party. It is for the floor leader of that party to decide how many of his members will speak on the subject. The allotted time is divided between them.

There umpteen number of occasions when some ace speakers had consumed more time than what was allotted to them. In such circumstances, the Speaker used to caution the member that he was exceeding his time limit and that he may be depriving his colleagues in the party to put forward their view point.

If the member still was unable to conclude, the Speaker used to ask the floor leader if that party would forego a chance for other speakers to speak or reduce number of speakers and some understanding in the form of give and take used to be arrived at.

But now the mikes are cut once the allotted time of the members is over. One is left to wonder how a member can do justice to an issue and put forward his argument on important subject that could impact the lives of crores of people in five or six minutes. It's not reading out rapid news. The Speakers can allow the members to take few more minutes using their discretionary power and the government has no right to question the Speaker.

That is what is the practice is in the Parliament. If need be the sitting of the house can be extended by couple of hours. But this trend has changed and now the presiding officers keep on interrupting every 30 seconds and resort to disconnecting the mike. On the other hand, the ruling party members and minister after minister give lecture on rules and its importance. If that time was judiciously given to the opposition may be the debates can be more fruitful.

The parties in power should understand that they do not have monopoly over intelligence. They should have the patience and magnanimity to listen to the other side, voice of dissent is very important in democracy. Having taken oath by Constitution, it is necessary that democracy should prevail in letter and spirit.

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