Lok Sabha during a special session at the Parliament House in New Delhi.
Lok Sabha during a special session at the Parliament House in New Delhi.Photo | PTI

Cooperation needed to end continued paralysis of Parliament

The people’s representatives must break the cycle of disruption and work towards evolving consensus over policy interventions needed to address the issues.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a positive start to the 18th Lok Sabha by calling for consensus in policymaking and governance. The need for constructive cooperation between the government and the opposition cannot be overstated, especially in light of the abysmal record of our parliament’s atmospherics over the past few years. The complete lack of cooperation between the two sides has led to bitter confrontation and paralysis of the legislature. The gridlock is a failure on part of the elected representatives to serve the interests of the people.

The PM’s initial conciliatory tone notwithstanding, the first session of the new Lok Sabha has witnessed animosity between the government and the opposition. The first resolution presented by the reappointed Speaker, on the Emergency, was seen as a slight on the Congress.

The principal opposition party was quick to respond, calling the Speaker’s resolution unprecedented.

The Leader of the Opposition, Rahul Gandhi, led a delegation to the Speaker to convey their objection to a political reference from the chair.

In this, the legislators missed a chance to come together and condemn the Emergency with a unified voice. Opposition parties also saw the president’s first address to the joint session of parliament as papering over some of the most serious issues facing the country. Meanwhile, some other opposition parties called for removing the Sengol from the Lok Sabha.

The acrimonious exchange included a Samajwadi Party MP calling it a symbol of monarchy rather than the people’s rule. RJD and AAP leaders supported the position. It seems the treasury and the opposition were bent on picking on each other. While the people are struggling with grave issues like farm distress, exam paper leaks and joblessness, parliamentarians are back to their usual sabre-rattling and pointscoring over issues unconnected with the country’s larger problems.

The people’s representatives must break the cycle of disruption and work towards evolving consensus over policy interventions needed to address the issues. It’s important for the treasury benches and the opposition to find a middle ground where debates and exchange of views can happen. The prime minister said that while a majority is necessary to run the government, consensus is crucial to govern the country. It is time for parliament to work with this spirit.

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The New Indian Express
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