Parliament is no rubber stamp

44RahulGandhi Playing offence: Rahul Gandhi flanked by Ghulam Nabi Azad (left) and Anand Sharma (right) | Arvind Jain

The government accuses the opposition of not allowing the Rajya Sabha to function.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to respond to the issues raised by the opposition. He has failed to rein in ministers and MPs from the BJP who have repeatedly made inflammatory statements. Therefore, it is important for him to respond. Also, you cannot have two different yardsticks, one for the UPA ministers and another for their ministers and chief ministers. They have tried to brazen it out. And that has led to logjams in Parliament.

It is primarily the responsibility of the government to see that Parliament functions. But if it resorts to stalling tactics by not accepting legitimate demands of the opposition, the responsibility for the disruption is with the government.

The government says the opposition is not allowing it to carry forward its legislative agenda.

It is ironic, coming from a government whose leader of the house in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, has more than once said disruption was a legitimate parliamentary tactic for the opposition. The BJP has the unflattering distinction of being the principal disruptor in the history of parliamentary democracy. In furtherance of its partisan agenda, its leaders have derailed session after session and did not allow important legislative business for years. The government cannot say that every bill that it brings should be rubber stamped by Parliament. I am charging this government with bypassing parliamentary scrutiny and not referring the bills in the Lok Sabha to standing committees. We are forced to demand that bills are referred to select committees by the Rajya Sabha.

Is there any possibility of the GST Bill going through in the budget session?

Despite efforts by successive finance ministers and prime minister Manmohan Singh, the GST bill was not passed. Who was opposing it? The present prime minister is on record saying it will destroy the federal character and take away the taxation power of the states as he led the charge against the bill. Unlike them, we have not said we would not allow it. In their case, it was partisan politics. Here, we have given them our concerns in writing. I am sure that a meeting ground could be found. But does it mean that Parliament is about the passage or non-passage of one bill, as the prime minister and the finance minister have made it look like?

The PM has reached out to the opposition.

It was a good meeting. I think they now recognise that there is a need for engagement with the opposition. I wish this had happened earlier. At the same time, the PM also has to accept that the opposition will raise issues and demand debate and discussion, and try to force accountability.

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