Parliament dumbed down to MPs discussing local issues instead of national security matters: Congress MP

Manish Tewari said Parliament has been dumbed down to people articulating constituency-level issues that are in the domain of municipal bodies and state legislatures.

Published: 06th March 2022 10:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th March 2022 10:28 PM   |  A+A-


Parliament (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: Accusing successive governments of being reluctant to have an informed discussion on national security issues, Congress MP Manish Tewari on Sunday said Parliament has been "dumbed down" to people articulating constituency-level issues that are in the domain of municipal bodies and state legislatures.

Tewari, speaking at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), referred to the India-China border standoff and how even after "close to 21 months there has not been a single discussion in Parliament" on the issue.

"I find that there is a strange reluctance on the part of government -- and when I talk about government I talk about government generically, going across administrations -- to really have an informed discussion about critical national security issues.

"...Unfortunately Parliament seems to have been dumbed down to people articulating very constituency-level issues which are in the domain of municipal bodies and state legislatures, rather than being a deliberative forum or a policy forum for some of the very critical challenges that India confronts," he said in a session on his latest book, "10 Flashpoints, 20 Years: The National Security Situations that Impacted India."

Though admitting that there might be a discussion on certain issues in the standing committees of different ministries, including External Affairs, Defence or Ministry of Home, he said "many many areas are literally no go areas" and that anything pertaining to the national security is treated like a "holy cow".

To buttress his point, the former Union minister shared how "43 questions" asked by him since September 2020 on the country's border situation with China have been refused citing grounds of national security.

"I don't think it behoves a mature democracy to really get so paranoid about something which is discussed everyday in the public space but we are unwilling to discuss that in a structured format in Parliament," he added.

On what makes the national legislatures deflect from their primary role which, according to him, is looking at the "national policy", the Congress MP from Punjab said it could be the daily grind of having to serve large constituencies.

"...In my constituency Sri Anandpur Sahib in Punjab we have 1,500 villages and close to 50 urban agglomerations. Now, with sizes as large as that and hardly any expert support, people (MPs) completely and absolutely get deflected from their primary role which as national legislature is to really look at national policy," he noted.

Talking about the country's foreign policy and its adversarial relationship with China and Pakistan, the 56-year-old Congress leader said India needs "three decades of peace on its periphery" in order to surmount its internal developmental and its internal security challenges.

And to achieve that finding a modus vivendi with Pakistan and China is must, argued Tewari, warning that till the time India finds that "we are going to be stuck in a zero-sum game".

"India has not been able to break out of its neighbourhood. It may have great power aspirations, but the reality is that an unsettled periphery with China and the legacy of partition with Pakistan continue to hobble us, and we have to shed this baggage of history and see if we can find a modus vivendi," he added.

The 15th edition of JLF, will be held online till March 9, and on ground -- at its new venue of Hotel Clarks Amer in Jaipur -- from March 10-14.

Turkish bestselling novelist Elif Shafak, 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction finalist Jonathan Franzen, 2021 Booker winner Damon Galgut, Australian author and 2003 Booker winner DBC Pierre, Hollywood actor-writer Rupert Everett, and eminent Jamaican poet Kei Miller are among the 250 authors participating in the literary festival this year.

Earlier scheduled to run between January 28 and February 1, the festival was postponed due to rising COVID-19 cases.


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