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Why is AP Assembly so hot, Guru?

Why is AP Assembly so hot, Guru?
Highlights

Why is AP Assembly so hot, Guru. Some things never seem to change and the Andhra Pradesh Assembly apparently belongs to this genre. One fails to find an appropriate term to describe the behavior of the members when sombre condolences were in progress.

Belligerent fight between ruling and opposition benches is holding AP Legislature to ransom. Frantic bid to defend itself and cover up its ignominious failure to negotiate with the Centre what the State legally deserves makes the TDP more non-accommodative. Be it any issue, the answer of the opposition leader is the same. 2019 could see a new government. Such an obsession with power incapacitates him from playing a healthy opposition role. A disciplined party like BJP cannot ignore the mandate of its all India leadership. But, the State unit seems to be crawling when it is asked to bend. Thus, the political landscape is unlikely to change in the period up to 2019

Some things never seem to change and the Andhra Pradesh Assembly apparently belongs to this genre. One fails to find an appropriate term to describe the behavior of the members when sombre condolences were in progress. The belligerent fight between the ruling and the opposition benches held the House to ransom.

The fate of Legislative sessions is known even before the commencement of the sessions. Wild personal accusations outdo the best of developmental topics on the agenda in utter disregard to issues directly concerning the people. Of course, this is neither new nor unique to Andhra Pradesh Legislature. But, there exists context for this kind of situation prevailing in the state legislature.

Legislatures are an embodiment of the people’s will. The Father of Indian Constitution, Dr BR Ambedkar, felt that independent India would not have to resort to civil disobedience and non-cooperation, the two standout features of the freedom struggle. His contention was that henceforth problems of the people could be resolved through debates in the legislative institutions.

But unfortunately legislative institutions see disobedience and non-cooperation. As a result, pressing people’s issues hardly figure in the House. Even the laws are passed without any legislative scrutiny. Many reasons have contributed to this phenomenon. There has been a steep degeneration in the political fabric. Politics have become a means for self-aggrandizement rather than instruments of change.

This political culture invariably spills over the functioning of legislature. Legislators are motivated to settle personal scores rather than address policy-making issues. Political parties are centred around individuals. Pleasing the leadership (aka sycophancy) has now become the sole motto of the individual legislators.

Thus, the legislature is reduced to a war-zone to resolve personal conflict between two leaders backed by avid followers, who move heaven and earth to impress their political bosses. The personality cult in the political sphere gets reflected in the legislative process also.

The ruling party refuses to recognise even the presence of the main opposition, while the opposition refuses to accept the fact that their arch-rival or nemesis is ruling the State. Thus, utter lack of appreciation of each other’s role in parliamentary democracy is having its ugly manifestations.

The principal opposition in Andhra Pradesh is yet to reconcile with the fact that it has lost the electoral battle in 2014. The party powered by unprecedented victory in 2012 by-polls was expecting a historic harvest in 2014. But, subsequent developments, especially the bifurcation of the State and the emotional backdrop, changed the political idiom altogether, shattering the hopes of the YSR Congress Party.

Thus the principal opposition party refuses to live in the present and wanders in the titillating world of the future. This is precisely why the opposition has only one Sanjeevani to offer for all ailments. Be it a special status, loan waiver, welfare schemes, land alienation due to capital construction, the answer of the opposition leader is the same.

2019 could see a new government. Such an obsession with power incapacitates it from playing a healthy opposition role. Constructive opposition seem like words from a distant past. There is nothing wrong to nurse political ambitions. In fact, the grammar of democracy is the intent to come to power. But, failing to appreciate the present material condition is an absurd position the YSR Congress Party is taking.

The narrow difference of vote share during the 2014 polls further intensifies the competitive politics between the ruling and the main opposition parties. The capricious behavior of even opposition members is giving the ruling party an additional advantage to escape legislative scrutiny. The absence of any other party in the legislature, unlike in the state of Telangana, is resulting in a political kabaddi between the TDP and the YSR Congress, holding the legislature to ransom.

The ruling party has a constitutional responsibility in running the legislature. But, the scant regard it shows for serious debates stems out of its acute political aversion to the opposition, which is an unwarranted trend in democratic polity. Quite unfortunately, the only other party in the legislature that prefers to be a political spectator to the bilateral fight between TDP and the YSR Congress is the BJP, which is handicapped by its presence in the ruling combine.

A disciplined party like BJP cannot ignore the mandate of its all India leadership. But, the State unit seems to be crawling when they are asked to bend. There are divergent voices within the state BJP, particularly on the attitude it should take towards the TDP on State-related issues. Hence, its silence in the ongoing turf war between the big two.

At times, it joins the chorus against opposition. In the absence of a third voice, the BJP would have to play the role of a constructive ally and a friendly critic. Parliamentary democracy allows even members of the ruling party to question the Executive. The polity of Andhra Pradesh does not just comprise TDP and YSR Congress Party. But, the other voices are excluded as they are not represented in the legislature.

Representation for yet another opposition would have made a difference in the functioning of state legislature. The ruling party has to face a harsh reality in this legislative session. Its failure to achieve special status puts the government and the party in the dock. With no valid explanation to offer, the ruling party is determined to stifle any dissent on this subject. Frantic bid to defend itself and cover up its ignominious failure to negotiate with the Centre what the State legally deserves make it more non-accommodative.

The embarrassing situation in which the TDP finds itself due to the Centre’s intransigence is also adding to the political acrimony in the legislature. The principal opposition seems to be utterly lacking in strategy to politically expose the parties that promise the moon to the people of the truncated State, who are seriously aggrieved of the process of bifurcation and the monumental neglect it suffers even towards legal and parliamentary commitments.

Thus, the political landscape is unlikely to change in the period up to 2019. The opposition is unlikely to alter the course it has adopted. The ruling party that cannot accept even the existence of YSR Congress is unlikely to appreciate the importance of an opposition voice in parliamentary democracy. The BJP, which derives complete comfort in the power company of its ally, is also unlikely to come out of its role as TDP’s B Team.

No other party seems to be having any chance of getting represented in the present legislature. The State Legislature has to contend with the political cacophony for the remaining period of the term of this Legislature. The civil society has to fill the gap created by a non-functioning legislature and its failure to make the executive accountable.

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