Opposition parties might not see eye-to-eye with the government headed by prime minister Narendra Modi but that should not mean it should subvert the parliamentary system. Moving a no-confidence motion against the government is a political right and opposition parties have exercised it in the fervent hope of putting the government on the mat in both houses of Parliament when their motion comes up for consideration on Friday.
The no-confidence motion moved by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is to protest the government’s failure to accord special status to newly-formed Andhra Pradesh following the state’s bifurcation. From the government’s perspective, the admission of a no confidence motion in the Lok Sabha is one way of buying peace with opposition parties to run the month-long monsoon session more productively. Discussing Andhra Pradesh would give the ruling NDA a chance to present its case before a national audience — a welcome opportunity given that the TDP acrimoniously quit the alliance and the centre had agreed to the special package four years ago.
The debate later this week will give the BJP-led NDA an occasion to reinforce its point of view with regard to Andhra Pradesh. The TDP has its own problems and not everyone is on the same page with the party on finding a villain in the BJP. This could well be a diversionary exercise because for chief minister
N Chandrababu Naidu it has not really been plain sailing in running the state.
However, this is as good a time as any for the opposition to raise some pertinent points, on lynch mobs for instance. It would be worthwhile to bring up the issues in Parliament and seek the government’s response on them. The Supreme Court has rapped the government on the knuckles following recent lynching incidents. That observation, in which the court has asked the government to frame a law dealing specifically with mobs and lynching will surely come in handy as ammunition for the opposition.
Yet, all this must be done with true parliamentary decorum. Holding Parliament to ransom by stalling proceedings and creating pandemonium cannot be an alternative to substantive discussion. Even if the BJP had resorted to such tactics in the past, disrupting Parliament is not an option. Only two sessions of Parliament are expected to complete the government’s business — which includes taking up 65-odd pending bills — before political parties get into election mode. The Budget session beginning February 1 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year will essentially be to present a vote on account.
Providing 33 per cent reservations to women, ending the nikah halala and triple talaq, a white paper on agrarian crisis and serious issues confronting the banking industry will have to be resolved before that. The government should grab Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s offer for unconditional support to get 33 per cent reservations for women. It should try and extend this consensus to contentious issues like triple talaq and nikah halala. The opening day of the current session showed promise that while there might be deep political divisions all around, there was an effort to get on with the work at hand.