If the trend of the last three days in Parliament is any indication, this session could come a cropper

The belligerence of treasury benches and opposition parties should not lead to a washout of the winter session of Parliament. If the trend of the last three days of Parliament is any indication, this session could come a cropper. Hence, both treasury benches and opposition members will have to forge a working understanding to utilise the next three weeks to allow orderly functioning of Parliament.

In the last three days, no substantive legislative business was transacted by either of the houses owing to the apparent breakdown in communication channels between the government and the opposition parties. A huge win by the Congress party in the Hindi heartland, with victories in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh – the last by a slender margin – seems to have put more punch into the opposition campaign in Parliament as well. The demand for setting up a joint parliamentary committee into alleged financial irregularities of the Rafale deal that was also central to the Congress campaign in the assembly elections continues to find an echo in Parliament. Other regional parties like the Telugu Desam Party that left the NDA and found the Congress as its newest anchor have asked for more funds from the centre. Tamil Nadu parties – both DMK and AIADMK – are also on the warpath seeking water for their state from adjacent Karnataka. In short, both houses have continued to witness pandemonium and ruckus this week indicating that opposition parties may not allow the government the luxury of adopting key bills.

If opposition parties continue with this belligerence and the ruling alliance does not succeed in pushing through the legislative agenda, the biggest loser would be people at large. For instance, the Union cabinet had cleared the triple Talaq bill in September 2017 followed by adoption in the Lok Sabha. But, the Rajya Sabha had stalled its clearance citing inadequacies. Unless the bill is adopted by Parliament, muslim women will continue to face abuse from the religious clergy that exploited the practice of ‘Talaq’. The bill relating to 33 per cent reservation for women in democratically elected offices has been hanging fire for over 14 years. One reason for this was on bringing in caste-based quotas within women’s reservation. Several rightwing and socialist political formations seemed to have dragged their feet on the issue.

Opposition parties made a song and dance about agrarian crisis. In fact, it would be a very significant moment for political parties to put the government on the mat if they were serious about farmers’ welfare. Sadly, there is a reluctance to debate socio-economic issues. If this session gets washed out, over 47-bills listed by the centre will be stuck till June 2019 when the new Lok Sabha gets reconstituted following Lok Sabha polls. This is not in anybody’s interest.