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Nation left in the cold

Nation left in the cold
Highlights

It took just over 86 hours for our law makers to demolish the myth that the sacred Parliament is the temple of democracy of our country. Winter session is the most popular amongst all with people from far and wide and from all walks of life thronging the visitors\' gallery.

It took just over 86 hours for our law makers to demolish the myth that the sacred Parliament is the temple of democracy of our country. Winter session is the most popular amongst all with people from far and wide and from all walks of life thronging the visitors' gallery.

This session had nothing to offer them. What one witnessed was a disaster for democracy. The history of legislative democracy has made the Legislature a solemn and inviolable temple of democratic politics.

Unfortunately, this temple has been reduced to a fun fair where every member – either happy or unhappy with something – could storm in to interrupt sessions and make some noise there.

But even if you want to settle your problem with a person – the person in question being Narendra Modi, our Prime Minister – it doesn’t automatically justify the behaviour of the members, who preferred to make a mockery of democratic values by digging in their heels to outsmart each other.

Demonetisation was expected to rock the house. Everyone thought it would be for a couple of days and then it would be business as usual. It was not to be.

The political ambitions at display throughout the disastrous winter session portend an ominous tendency. The Legislature cannot become a private property of some parties or a Roman Colosseum forgetting that democratic politics was born out of human realisation of the inability of wars and violence to settle conflicts.

The creation of Legislature was indeed to bring people of differing political views and stands to come together under one roof to understand one another's differences through friendly discussions. “Dissent, yet debate, differ yet discuss, argue yet conclude,” should have been the norm.

The one-month-long 22-sittings session was scheduled to deal with 10 Bills for consideration and passing. Nine new Bills were Bills were expected to be introduced to be taken for a passage later.

On the last day of the session, the Lok Sabha could pass Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill which was cleared by the Rajya Sabha earlier.

The government was desperate to see the smooth passage of the GST Bill and that could not be done. For the government to put the country firmly on the track of reforms, it is essential that the GST rolls out smoothly.

This needed the Central Goods and Service Tax Bill to facilitate levy of tax on intra-State supply of goods or services, Integrated Goods and services Tax Bill to facilitate levy of Tax on inter-State supply of goods and services and the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation for Loss of Revenue) Bill to facilitate payment of compensation to Stats for loss of revenue arising on account of implementation of the GST.

Then there were other important Bills awaiting their passage like the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The bills to be introduced for passage included Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 and Divorce (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

But, the political brinkmanship would not allow any of these to see the light of the day. Twenty two hours was enough for them to disrupt the Business of 86 hours.

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