Parliament paralysed Ruling party, opposition must end the impasse

Over six decades after Independence, Parliament in India is lying completely paralysed and no one knows, as of now, how to end the deadlock between the government and the opposition.

Parliament is supposed to meet on Feb 21 for approving the annual budget to enable the government meet national expenditure, but the continuance of the stand-off between the government and the opposition has created uncertainty about  the manner in which  it will sanction the money.

If the opposition continues  to disrupt the proceedings in the two Houses there will be no alternative to passing the entire budget with a desultory voice vote of ‘ayes’ and ‘nos’ without a moment’s scrutiny.

This kind of contingency is not ruled out unless the government and the opposition parties sort out their differences during the next few days.

Several attempts, and two by the Speaker, to bring about a consensus between the government and the opposition to put Parliament back on the rails have  failed.

Informal contacts between the government and the opposition parties, however, have been resumed to find a way out.  On the success of these efforts will depend whether the  budget will be subjected to proper scrutiny by Parliament  or a mere voice vote will do the trick.

It will be very unfortunate if the budget of so large a nation as India’s is to be passed without due deliberation envisaged in the Constitution. The nation will , however, feel highly relieved if behind-the-scene discussions  lead to a solution for the current stalemate.

At core is the differences between the opposition and the government on the manner in which Parliament is to examine the 2G scam, which the opposition parties led by the BJP say has cost the nation a loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

The Government has made it clear that it is prepared to be cross- examined by the PAC. The opposition parties on the other hand, want Parliament to set up a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the 2G scam. The government has, so far, rejected the opposition demand for a JPC.

The Communist Party of India (M) and other left parties after much deliberation, are now trying to distance themselves from the BJP by announcing that while they favour  the demand of a JPC, they will no longer be a party to disrupting the debate on the budget. The party like the BSP is not joining the disruption campaign within the House, in any case.

This will certainly leave the BJP isolated in the two Houses and in turn could lead the party to  rethink  its strategy. May be the government –opposition talks will be resumed after the Republic Day  and Beating of the Retreat function.  The first week of February will be crucial to save Parliament from further public ridicule.

– ANI, January 27th, 2011

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