Recent signals from Indian polity are disconcerting for the country’s governance and for the credibility of key institutions. The budget session of Parliament has been a virtual washout this time around with the Opposition staying away for much of the session on insubstantial grounds and the Government seemingly happy with not having to contend with obstructive adversaries. The manner in which the budget had to be passed without any discussion is a shame indeed and a big black mark on democracy.
The other shocking development has been the Opposition’s quest for an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India, whose purported reasons were heavily laced with politics. Major political parties dragging the CJI’s name into mud is hardly the way forward in a democracy. There is not a ghost of a chance for the impeachment motion to be passed since the Government is opposed to it and the two-thirds majority required in both Houses is completely ruled out, but some Opposition parties thought it fit to drag the government into an unseemly controversy by an indirect route out of spite and rancour. That the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar and Sitaram Yechury were behind the move shows the Opposition in poor light. That such luminaries had no qualms in assaulting the fair name of such an august institution speaks poorly of their sense of responsibility.
Shockingly, the Rajya Sabha worked for just 35 per cent of the planned time in the ongoing budget session, while the Lok Sabha performed even worse, at 25 per cent, reflecting the apathy that characterises democracy’s most hallowed institution — Parliament. As per PRS Legislative Research data, until March 27, productivity saw a sharp decline from the 108 per cent (Lok Sabha) and 86 per cent (Rajya Sabha) figures registered in the 2017 budget session. Serious debates with well-researched arguments have become rare and been replaced by members jumping into the well of the House, shouting noisy slogans and making a nuisance of themselves. It is no wonder, therefore, that this temple of democracy has degenerated into a forum where wrong standards are set routinely. That there is also a parallel effort to initiate impeachment proceedings against the CJI shows the cavalier manner in which this institution is being treated for partisan political ends. It is indeed time that members of Parliament realise that harm done to institutions strikes at the root of democracy and leaves scars of a permanent nature.