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Loss to nation

Loss to nation
Highlights

Loss to nation. It is “tu, tu, mein, mein” time again. The sight of the Opposition Members of Parliament staging a dharna at the gate of Parliament

The losers are the people who elect leaders to legislatures hoping that they will work to give them a better life

It is “tu, tu, mein, mein” time again. The sight of the Opposition Members of Parliament staging a dharna at the gate of Parliament House, and then Members from the ruling alliance emulating them, may be good photo-op for television cameras.

The channels are doing their job, but the Members elected in a prolonged exercise that cost the country an estimated Rs 8,000 crore last year, are certainly not. Elected to Parliament, the MPs are disrupting its proceedings, not doing the task for which they are elected to the respective Houses and blocking any meaningful discourse that must include debating and enacting laws for the nation.

If the BJP did it yesterday, for a full decade (2004-14) the Congress is returning the compliment today. The losers are the people who elect them to legislatures hoping that they will work to give them a better life. When session begins in Mother Parliament, British law-makers meet round the year, but our elected representatives work to a game-plan to disrupt Parliament’s proceedings.

And, then they spill over to the corridors and the Central Hall for gossip over coffee, for tub-thumping before an obliging media and thence, to Parliament canteen for the subsidised food. In some democracies, the loser boycotts legislature, or the election itself, and takes to the streets. In India, we have the saving grace of the loser in the polls entering the House, but only to disrupt it.

Stating this is admittedly cynical. This has continued year after year -- so do our writings in this space or debates elsewhere critical of them. Cynical because if MPs reading this criticism, there is no change. In the name of people, our lawmakers talk at the media, and whosoever is critical of them, just the way they talk at each other. And we pride in calling ourselves the “world’s largest democracy.”

For roughly three decades and more, we have been watching this spectacle, no matter who is in power and who in the opposition. This continues in the state legislatures, civic bodies and even panchayats. It has become an integral part of our political culture. Time and again, the issue of the privileges and perks of our elected representatives has come up for criticism on the grounds that they do not earn their keep.

There is great disillusionment among the public at the manner in which Parliament is held hostage. This, again, is a continuing cycle. The biggest loss to the nation is the loss of confidence of people who elect their lawmakers. Each government of the day announces its policy and plans to implement it.

So has the present one under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aimed at faster all-round growth. For this, Parliament needs to pass many crucial pieces of legislation. But, many of these have not even been introduced, leave alone debated, in the House, before being enacted. Surely some via media has to be worked out to push forward legislation.

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