Editorial: Not Good Signs Of An Orderly Parliament

Editorial: Not Good Signs Of An Orderly Parliament

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, June 26, 2024, 10:06 PM IST
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PTI

After failing to get Mamata Banerjee on board on the candidature of its member K Suresh for the post of Speaker, Lok Sabha, the Congress party on Wednesday did well by not forcing a division. That would have only exposed chinks in the Opposition unity. As a result, the ruling NDA’s candidate Om Birla was elected Speaker with a voice vote. Clearly, the TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister wasn’t willing to play second fiddle to the Congress. She wasn’t part of the INDIA bloc in her state, but had still expressed readiness to cooperate with the Congress party in opposing the government. However, she warned she couldn’t be taken taken for granted. Despite the last-minute efforts to persuade her to vote with it in the election of the Speaker, she protested the unilateral decision to field Suresh without prior consultations. Realising that without the TMC members voting, the façade of Opposition unity would stand exposed, the Congress leadership accepted the inevitable. In short, the Opposition’s maiden effort to present a united front floundered at the first available opportunity. Expect more such fissures in the coming days and weeks. The always tenuous Opposition unity under the INDIA alliance will be severely tested as the Narendra Modi government seeks to bolster its numbers in Parliament. Meanwhile, it was a good gesture that once Birla was declared elected, the newly-anointed Leader of the Opposition (LOP), Rahul Gandhi, had the good sense to join the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju in offering felicitations to the Speaker. Maintaining Parliamentary etiquette and offering cooperation where necessary in the larger national interest and opposing when called for would help Gandhi earn the trust of the people. Obstruction and opposition for its own sake, on the other hand, would only forfeit the goodwill of the people.

An idea about the shape of things in the House in coming days was available when the Congress benches indulged in noisy behaviour when the Speaker made reference to the Emergency on its 50th anniversary. On June 26, 1975, Indira Gandhi had overturned the democratic Constitution, imposed a draconian autocratic rule, and denuded the people of all their civic rights and freedoms. The entire nation overnight was turned into an open prison where anyone could be jailed without reason or explanation. Instead of joining the Speaker in condemning the darkest chapter in free India’s history and solemnly undertaking not to ever impose the Emergency, the Congress-led Opposition sought to drown out the voice of the Speaker as he reminded the younger generations about Indira Gandhi’s blackest of black deeds. It was as if the Congress had problems distancing itself from the most egregious decision of Indira Gandhi because her family led by grandson Rahul had a vice-like grip on the party. On the other hand, Modi joined the Speaker in strongly endorsing the suo moto statement of Birla in castigating the Emergency. In sum, the third day of the 18th Lok Sabha saw the wide chink in the Opposition unity and the wider chasm between the ruling party and the Congress Opposition on a universally condemned misdeed of assaulting the democratic Constitution. Omens for an orderly functioning of Parliament remain slim.

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