Editorial: No Consensus, Only Confrontation

Editorial: No Consensus, Only Confrontation

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, July 01, 2024, 07:46 PM IST
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Lok Sabha in session | File pic

Consensus was what Prime Minister Narendra Modi advocated at the start of the first session of the newly elected 18th Lok Sabha but what we have witnessed is confrontation right from the onset, beginning with the Speaker’s election. The Opposition demand for a deputy Speaker from its ranks in exchange for support of the NDA candidate for Speaker, Om Birla, was brushed aside. Birla was elected by voice vote with the Opposition, which had put up K Suresh as its candidate, deciding against pressing for a division of votes. While member after member from the Opposition benches urged Birla to adopt an impartial attitude and give equal space to them, the Speaker chose to rake up the 1975 Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in his inaugural speech in an obvious bid to rile the Congress. With President Droupadi Murmu also raising the Emergency in her address to the joint session of Parliament, the government’s game plan was apparent. Om Birla asking the House to observe a minute’s silence to remember the horrors of the Emergency was obviously a ploy to isolate the Congress from the other Opposition parties. However, the very next day a united Opposition succeeded in stalling the business of the House when their request for an adjournment motion to discuss the NEET fiasco was turned down by the Speaker.

Birla’s often abrasive behaviour when it comes to Opposition members has been called out more than once. His berating four-time MP Shashi Tharoor for saying ‘Jai Samvidhan’ after taking oath was objected to by another four-time MP Deepender Hooda but Birla’s almost rude rebuke of the Haryana MP was understandably strongly criticised by the Opposition. Things were no different in the Upper House with Chairman Jagdeep Dhankar coming down strongly on the Opposition members, even taking on leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge for apparently entering the well of the House. Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi made his debut as LoP, his first constitutional post. How he conducts himself will be closely watched by members of the treasury benches who will leave no stone unturned to embarrass him. However, the ‘pappu’ of the past has matured and he may well throw up a surprise.

What is more worrisome is that despite reduced numbers, the Modi government seems in no mood to concede even an inch to the Opposition. A repeat of the 17th Lok Sabha which saw Bills being passed without discussion and members being expelled en masse may well be on the cards. Will a resurgent Opposition with vastly improved numbers allow parliamentary norms to be trampled on? The jury is still out on the issue.

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