The Hindu Business Line
Winter session washout
The PM’s squarely responsible, for choosing not to speak
T he winter session of Parliament was among the most unproductive in 15 years. Precious time, money and business was lost in the Lok Sabha as the Government failed to organise a discussion around Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sudden demonetisation decision. It was a pity the Government wasn’t made to account for a move that has thrown the life of small traders, farmers, daily wagers and countless ordinary people off the rails. The Opposition was justifiably incensed that the PM did not speak on the floor of the House.
Modi chose to speak only where on-the-spot debate was ruled out, such as at rallies and on his radio programme, Mann ki Baat. Wasn’t his absence from Parliament as serious a disregard for the House as those who disrupted proceedings and prevented discussion and transaction of business? The PM should have addressed MPs’ concerns, rather than leaving the job to others, because the onus for the November 8 demonetisation move rests on him alone.
Sixteen opposition parties had approached the President to break the logjam, but they were unsuccessful. Even BJP veteran LK Advani expressed disapproval over the conduct of proceedings in the House. Responsibility for the smooth running of the House rests with the Government. Its disregard for parliamentary democracy — debate and discussion — was stark. However, part of the blame falls on the Opposition led by the Congress, which earlier insisted on adjournment and a debate with voting and then, as the session neared to a close, agreed to speak under any rule, after Rahul Gandhi said he would expose “personal corruption” by Modi. By then it was too late. Biju Janata Dal leader Tathagata Satapathy remarked during a debate on the Disabilites Bill: “The concept that any one person can change a country does not happen anywhere. Even Alexander got defeated, Adolph Hitler got defeated.”