The Hindu Business Line

Winter session washout

- Senior Deputy Editor

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.”

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