Current session could mirror the deepening NDA-UPA schism

The start of the winter session of Parliament should provide the occasion for sagacity and decorum to return to politics. The political acrimony that marked the 49-day long campaigning for the Gujarat polls must not be carried into Parliament. If Friday’s proceedings are any indication, the current session could mirror the deepening schism between ruling BJP-led NDA and Congress-led UPA. It holds the danger of yet another washout affair. Political managers on both sides should get to work immediately to prevent such an eventuality in the interest of the nation.Governance should not become a casualty when the opposition decides to score brownie points through disruptions. At the same time, the ruling alliance has the responsibility to run both the houses of Parliament and get important legislations cleared. People have the right to get answers to questions of public importance which are raised by their representatives in the House. M Venkaiah Naidu, a seasoned politician, who is now the presiding officer of the Rajya Sabha, has summed up the way things should move forward: “Opposition should have its say and ruling party must have its way.”The monsoon session had earlier witnessed several disruptions in both Houses. While the Rajya Sabha lost about 28 per cent of its allotted time, the Lok Sabha was no better and lost 33 per cent of its time. Most disgusting was the fact that only three bills were passed to become laws in the last session.  Given that the current session will be short, the opposition should utilise the time to challenge the government pointing to its shortcomings, getting the bills right before voting on them and debating key issues confronting the country especially the agrarian crisis and labour unrest.For its part, the ruling NDA will have to withhold the temptation of provoking the opposition members on non-issues and procedural wrangles. Instead, the Narendra Modi government will have to take proactive approach to enhance the quality of debate, acknowledge positive suggestions by MPs and get as many bills as possible adopted. Out of the 25 bills before the two houses, three or four big ones need enough time for debate. For instance, the legislation on triple talaq needs to be handled sensitively given that Muslim women are big stakeholders. Holding simultaneous elections to state assemblies and the Lok Sabha is an issue that has been suggested by Prime Minister Modi several times in the last one year. The onus of evolving a consensus on the crucial bill will fall on the government. Meanwhile, the government will have to clear several apprehensions relating to the security of individuals’ deposits while debating the Financial Regulation and Deposits Insurance Bill (FRDI). Unless security of deposits – big or small – is ensured, the entire banking industry’s credibility will come under question. A healthy democracy involves an effective opposition and a responsive as well as responsible ruling party. Both sides have to exercise restraint and preserve the basic tenets of Parliamentary democracy.