Parliamentary observers will confirm that “heat” and acrimony is generated by demands for a discussion on politically controversial matters. Parties jostle over the rule of procedure under which that debate should be conducted, whether or not the House will be called upon to “express an opinion” (through a vote) at the end of it all ~ but a very tepid show is offered when the matter is eventually “taken up”. The same could well hold true over the present row over the delay in announcing the dates of the winter session. There can be no argument about the principle that a session of the apex legislature takes precedence over an election to a state Assembly ~ as appears to be the case now ~ but unfortunately principles have long been excised from the political arena.
And that reality will not be altered by endless citing of precedent and comparisons: it is a sad fact that once a parliamentary poll helps install a government the effective role of the legislature is drastically diminished. The government of the day uses its majority (a substantial majority in the current scenario) to rubber-stamp executive action, while the Opposition deems itself honour-bound to oppose, just for the sake of it.
After Sonia Gandhi made her point about the winter session being deferred it was inevitable that the Congress leaders in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha should unleash their supporting fire. And while Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad may opt to raise both rhetorical and decibel levels, they really have little to say except the stock line of the government “running away”.
It is worth noting that Rahul Gandhi has hardly joined the tirade ~ is it because he entertains high hopes of leading his party to victory in Gujarat and does not wish to dilute a personal essay at forging a broad front to thwart the BJP’s objective of retaining its grip over the western state? For truth be told, the Congress would have little fresh ammunition to fire on the demonetisation and GST fronts, and the more it attacks the BJP for being communal and divisive, pushing an anti-minority agenda (the fires over the movie Padmavati are rooted in that agenda) the happier might the BJP feel over someone else doing its work of “polarisation” in an election-dominated ambience.
The Congress’ floor leaders in both Houses would do well to get their members to work
on well-researched and effectively presented speeches in Parliament ~ they “hurt” more than strong words, shouting from the well, walk-outs and forcing adjournments. Those “weapons” have been blunted through overuse. The legislature,
alas, has been reduced to a political akhara:
the outcome in Gujarat and Himachal could have more impact than any snowball a winter session may “roll”.