‘It is their (the government’s) obligation to manage the House, they should go out to the Opposition and make concessions with them to see that the House operates,’ says Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to The Indian Express.
Shashi Tharoor, the head of the Congress, claims that while he himself does not support interrupting Parliament, the Opposition is turning to it because they believe they have been “completely cornered” and that the government has shown “no give, no compromise, or reaching out” to them. Tharoor discusses the major problems dividing the current Parliamentary session in an interview with The Indian Express.
When the Speaker chose to skip Wednesday’s session in order to convey his distress about the impasse, the Lok Sabha found itself in an unusual circumstance.
Tharoor: We were saddened to learn that the Speaker had been insulted by the MPs’ conduct. Sadly, this kind of behaviour has long been accepted in our parliamentary democracy. When the Congress was in control, the BJP was the first to consistently utilise disruptions, and this is where it all began. I personally don’t like interruption. But you need to see why the Opposition is acting in this manner.
Our nation is currently dealing with a huge problem in Manipur, where there have been many fatalities, 60,000 people have been displaced, homes and churches have been destroyed, and even a minister’s home has been burned down. What possible problem in our nation possibly be more terrible than this? Why doesn’t the prime minister speak up? Let the PM come and update us on the situation, is what the opposition has been arguing. There have been instances before, such as the 2002 House address by the then-prime minister Vajpayee over the riots in Gujarat. It is a fair request.
In addition, the government shifted the debate to the very end of the session when the no-confidence vote was introduced in order to force the Prime Minister to speak. Because the rule states that you have 10 days to schedule it, they have opted to interpret this as 10 working days, which is not what is stated, making it exceedingly rare. They have fully exploited what, in my opinion, is unethical. There should have been a debate before August 5, which is 10 regular days. It was supposed to start tomorrow. But since the Speaker’s decision is final, the government has won. They have opted to pass Bill after Bill in the clamour, which is a complete infraction of legislative practises and processes, which only serves to exacerbate the issue. M. N. Kaul and S. L. Shakdher’s Practise and Procedure of Parliament is regarded in India as the Gita or the Bible of parliamentary regulations. There is a clear statement on page 772 that states that no significant policy decisions can be made while a no-confidence vote is still being considered, and legislation is undoubtedly a significant policy. Since Independence, this concept has been upheld during 27 no-confidence votes. In 2018, the BJP-led government passed two such Bills; as of right now, they have passed eight or nine.
I would beg the administration to run the House because it is their duty to do so. They should engage the Opposition and find common ground with them to ensure that the House runs smoothly.
The government claims to have provided sufficient options to break the impasse, but the opposition keeps moving the goalposts and demanding a response from the prime minister?
Tharoor: Our position has not altered. The Opposition has held the position that the PM must arrive from the very first day. There may not be a more important problem facing this nation today. It has implications for both the nation and that state. There are also global repercussions. Since the Prime Minister did not take it seriously enough to address it in Parliament, we are shocked.
When the government was prepared for discussion on the NCT (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, the opposition accused it of causing the disturbances.
Tharoor: By any standard, this was a peculiar case of a government-sponsored disruption of a government Bill. Whatever the cause, coming to the House at that time with the Home Minister and his Ministers of State was inconvenient. All of them weren’t present. Despite the fact that the Bill was listed, it was obvious that they were not ready to discuss it. The administration was aware that we were willing to talk and that we were ready to do so.
You participated in the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill’s development. Do you believe the government would prefer to pass it during this session rather than refer it to another parliamentary panel?
Tharoor: Yes, as a member of the IT Committee, I participated in the call for a bill. Then they removed me as the chairman of the IT Committee after taking it away from me and giving it to a select committee. My opinions on it didn’t seem to be of much interest to the government.
Now it appears that we may not have a chance to express our opinions on the record given the Opposition’s plan. It will be really regrettable because this Bill has very serious ramifications for the citizens of this nation, particularly because it fundamentally alters the RTI Act. Additionally, it will facilitate government interference into Indian residents’ private.
The government’s strategy is just that. That method has been used to pass several bills. Simply put, they do not support the opposition’s right to speak up or supportive debate. They only care about passing their legislation quickly so they can move on with their lives. That, in my opinion, is a bad mentality for a parliamentary democracy. While I don’t think disruption is a good thing, the Opposition is using it as a last choice because it feels cornered. As is customary, there is no giving, no compromising, and no outreach on the part of the government.