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Interview With Ghanshyam Tiwari

Interview With Ghanshyam Tiwari

The washout of the second half of the Budget session of Parliament has perturbed the political parties and experts. While the ruling party blamed the opposition for the fiasco, the opposition termed it as political tactics stating that the government used AIADMK to avoid facing a no confidence motion and discussions on critical issues like Nirav Modi scam, Dalits atrocities etc. The opposition said that the government was scared of no-confidence motion which, if it had been allowed, would have exposed the wrong-doings of the BJP-led government. Though the numbers were with the government but the opposition would have managed to corner the government on several crucial issues.

Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to Samajwadi Party national spokesperson Ghanshyam Tiwari to know the impact of parliamentary disruptions, no discussion on no-confidence motion and NDA lawmakers’ decision to forgo salaries. Mr Tiwari questioned the intention of the Modi government on no confidence motion saying the main responsibility lies with the government to run Parliament and engage with the opposition on issues of national importance.

Q: The way Parliament of the world’s largest democracy conducted itself in the just concluded budget session has left many wondering where things are headed.

A: The Parliament as an institution looked ‘weak’ in the last two sessions. First it was suspended because of Gujarat elections and another was during the budget session when the ruling party did not allow the Houses to function. It was amply clear that the government had an agenda to disrupt Parliament.

Why is the opposition not ready to take the blame for not allowing Parliament to function?

That's not true. In the current Budget session, the opposition wanted Parliament to function. But parties like AIADMK, which has an unofficial partnership with the ruling alliance, chose to disrupt the proceedings to support the BJP agenda. The opposition cannot be blamed for parliamentary disruptions as it wanted to discuss all the important issues.

After the virtual washout of the 22-day sitting of the second phase of the session, the danger of this trend continuing till the next Lok Sabha polls a year away seems very high. And even more turmoil is in store. Do you agree?

It is amply clear that the government, with a majority in the Lok Sabha, does not want Parliament to function till the next Lok Sabha elections. It has sent wrong signals to the country that a ruling party with huge numbers can find a way to stall Parliament so that discussions on critical issues could be avoided.

In this phase of the budget session, the productivity in the Lok Sabha was a mere 4%, while in the Rajya Sabha it was 8% only. Does it not show the low productivity of parliamentarians?

It is time that media and people should seek commitment from parliamentarians including those from the ruling side that Parliament would function at least for certain number of days. The Prime Minister and the ruling party cannot use Parliament as per their convenience. They have to have certain commitment towards the country.

The Lok Sabha, for the first time, could not take up a no confidence motion against the incumbent ministry for more than three weeks. This happened despite the fact that the government has adequate numbers on its side. Your comment.

The no confidence motion was also moved by one of its own allies which got elected on the same mandate Prime Minister Modi got elected. This government used the ‘spontaneous’ opposition from AIADMK to ignore no-confidence motion thereby proving that this government has no conviction in debating issues with the opposition. There was no logic to not allow discussion on no-confidence motion in Parliament. If no confidence motion was allowed, then all the parties would have exposed the agenda of NDA government. It has set a wrong precedent for future governments to ignore no-confidence motion.

According to you, why did Prime Minister avoid parliamentary discussion on the Nirav Modi scam, the Dalits issue, the CBSE leak and a host of problems that faced his dispensation.

Prime Minister thinks that he is a any debate that questions him can have an impact on his brand image. He thought it that way, which is incorrect. He should have allowed discussion on no-confidence motion. He should have spoken about his vision, achievements and things to be achieved. He did not do that. The Prime Minister who looked very strong in his TV speeches but actually, was weak in his parliamentary conviction. As regard to issues, he was completely cornered. At national level, Nirav Modi scam directly questioned the role of Prime Minister and at regional level, the promise to Andhra Pradesh questioned his credibility. The Samajwadi Party questioned him on the promise of jobs and price for farmers. The issue of Dalits could not be discussed in Parliament because of repeated disruptions.

The Finance Bill was passed but it was done without discussion and amid din – an unprecedented move. Why was it done in such a hurry?

It was extremely shameful that the Finance Bill was passed without discussion. This Bill had a clear agenda to change the Foreign Currency Regulation Act. In other words, foreign funding to the political parties should be allowed without scrutiny. The two national parties were in sync with each other on this issue.

The Prime Minister and the Government apparently did not make honest efforts to build bridges with the opposition. The government managers blamed the opposition. Your views.

There was not even half-hearted effort from the government to engage with the opposition. The government was clear that it did not want the Parliament to function.

Your comments on the announcement that the BJP-led NDA MPs would not take their salary for the nearly two dozen lost days. Does it absolve them of the blame?

No, it does not absolve them of any blame at all. The announcement by MPs not to take their salary because Parliament did not work, will not help solve the problems. They have to work in Parliament to serve the people.

(Published on 16th April 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 16)