No debate, only acrimony

No debate, only acrimony

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lofty goals about wanting his government to be judged by the people for its ‘Rashtraniti’ (national endeavour) and not

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lofty goals about wanting his government to be judged by the people for its ‘Rashtraniti’ (national endeavour) and not “Rajniti” (politics) become difficult to attain when his ministers and lawmakers are found saying unsavoury things, in public and in private, either about the opposition or against religious minorities. After courting controversy and much hue and cry, they apologise, only to blame the media for ‘misquoting’ them. This has become a sickening routine.

Modi’s cautions to colleagues have obviously not worked.In Minister Giriraj Singh’s case, he was caught unawares by the media while commenting on Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. It happened over three weeks back and he was then ‘cautioned’ by BJP chief Amit Shah. That the belated apology had to come in parliament on Monday, after the opposition disrupted the proceedings for half-a-day, does not speak well of all concerned, especially the government.

If issues are going to be decided by the decibels in Parliament, street corners are enough. Why do we have Parliament at all?Such situations negate the government’s stated intentions of making parliament work at the optimum (“125 per cent” as per the PM) and waste national resources that go into the working of the parliament. Undoubtedly, both Houses had performed very well last year and during the earlier part of the Budget Session.

That meant passing of more bills and more issues debated. The PM is right in saying “it is good that the opposition attacks the government in Parliament.” Only, his party did not allow that during the last decade when it was in opposition. A sense of mutual respect and tolerance is lacking and is badly needed on all sides. Sadly, the twin agenda of the government and the opposition are totally at cross-purpose. The government wants to push through legislation pertaining to general sales tax, real estate and disclosure of foreign assets.

But contentious issues like ban on beef production and consumption and Modi attacking the predecessor government while on foreign tour have agitated the opposition.Clearly, the land acquisition law is at the centre of all the tensions in and outside parliament. The opposition is rallying to thwart it and there is no meeting ground. It is “my bill is better than yours” spirit at work each time it is debated, if at all. Copious tears are shed for farmers alive and 601 dead in the last three months.

Many more have died earlier, and the blame game is unending. The government tabled a renewed ordinance on land acquisition on Monday, determined to push the bill through. A resurgent Rahul is back, tearing into government defence on the issue. A joint session of parliament may be the only option. Whatever the bill’s fate, Parliament and the nation cannot be held hostage to a single legislation.

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