The just concluded Budget session of Parliament saw a new low in legislative history. Uproar and adjournments are nothing new to both Houses. But, a complete washout of half the Budget session has not happened in the recent past. Ironically, the main culprits were not the Opposition, but the allies of the National Democratic Alliance government. It was an extraordinary situation that the Lok Sabha could not function for over 20 days and a no confidence motion against the government could not be taken up. A government is in jitters when it is in minority. A party and its government with a clear-cut majority never run away from facing a no confidence motion in Parliament. But, the government was seen squirming in its seat in the wake of no confidence motions for which notices were given by several parties in Lok Sabha.
It was a blot on the government that the Lok Sabha Speaker, taking refuge in lame-duck arguments like House was not in order, adjourned the House day after day within minutes of beginning the proceedings, refusing to take up the no confidence motion. The Opposition, seeing through the game plan, alleged that the adjournments were nothing but a ruse to prevent discussion on the motion. Parliamentary experts have picked several holes in the stand taken by the Speaker. They say that once a no confidence motion is received, the Speaker is bound to take it up on a priority basis and put to vote on its admissibility. If 50 members rise in its support, the Speaker has to grant leave for moving the motion.
One can reasonably argue that the government did not want to face an Opposition onslaught on many issues. A full-scale discussion on matters like Nirav Modi-PNB scam, changes in SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, alleged corruption in the mega Rafale deal with France, demand for Special status to Andhra Pradesh and Cauvery water dispute would have brought many skeletons tumble out of the government’s cupboard. More than the Opposition attack, the government is pretty scared of its own allies like Shiv Sena pulling the rug from under its feet. It was the first time that the Narendra Modi Government was facing a no-confidence motion brought separately by the Congress, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the YSRC.
By all accounts, it was the least productive session in the last two decades. It was disgraceful to see that the Budget and its related Bills were passed in a few minutes time without discussion. Several important bills could not be taken up. There are four important functions for any legislature: Scrutiny of the Budget, take care of the interests of the constituents, function as a watchdog over the Government and above all, make laws. These functions can be discharged only when the government and the Opposition work in tandem. Presently(Published on 16th April 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 16)