FPJ Editorial: Parliament In Logjam Again

FPJ Editorial: Parliament In Logjam Again

The motive behind the Opposition demand for a statement by the Home Minister was simply to score political points, to draw political mileage from the unfortunate breach of security of Parliament

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, December 17, 2023, 09:36 PM IST
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Home Minister Amit Shah in Parliament |

Parliament seems to have reverted to its default position. No productive work was possible on the last two working days last week as the Opposition insisted on a statement by Home Minister Amit Shah on the breach of its security while the government rejected the demand. Instead, as if to thumb its nose at the Opposition, Shah spoke about the intrusion into the sanctum sanctorum of democracy at a media event outside. When the Opposition members persisted, the government stonewalled, quoting precedents in support, saying a statement can be made only after the report of an inquiry ordered by the Lok Sabha Speaker is available. The inquiry is being conducted by the Director-General, Central Reserve Police. The logjam led to loud protests with a number of Opposition members rushing into the well of both Houses, triggering their suspension till the end of the session. The session is due to end on December 22. If the two sides fail to find an agreed solution on Monday it is most likely the entire session will be washed out. The ruling side has lined up major legislative business for this session. Including the three Bills for replacing the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Act. Fifteen hours have been provided for debating these Bills. Unless better sense prevails on both sides, the passage of these consequential Bills in the absence of the Opposition, and without a proper debate, cannot be ruled out.

In all fairness, a preliminary statement on the breach of security could have been made by the Home Minister but the problem was that the Opposition insisted on following it up with a full-blown debate and questions thereof to the Home Minister. Given that the intruders and their accomplices have been arrested and are now being interrogated by the police for ascertaining if it was an autonomous act by these individuals or there was a wider conspiracy behind it, full facts can be known only on the completion of the inquiry. Thus, the motive behind the Opposition demand for a statement by the Home Minister was simply to score political points, to draw political mileage from the unfortunate breach of security of Parliament. Likewise, the demand for the resignation of the BJP member who had issued passes for the visitors’ gallery of the House was unreasonable. MPs routinely sanction issuing of such passes to members of the public without checking their antecedents. They neither have the means nor the machinery to perform such tasks. It is also ridiculous to link the mastermind behind the security breach to the Trinamool Congress because a photograph showing him with a Trinamool Congress MLA was found on his social media profile.

Such point-scoring detracts from the seriousness of the breach of security. As a well-regarded security expert has argued, in some respects last week’s attack was far more serious than the terror attack on Parliament 22 years ago. His point is that the fully-armed Pakistani terrorists were challenged in the outer precincts of the two Houses, while in this case the two intruders had jumped into the Lok Sabha, taking the presiding officer and the members present completely by surprise. What if instead of colour smoke canisters they had hidden bombs or other deadly incendiaries in their shoes? These are questions which hopefully would be considered by the security specialists in order for Parliament to have fool-proof security. The claim that the new Parliament had such security was belied last week. Hopefully, the entry ban on all visitors following the security breach is only temporary. Groups of schoolchildren who visit regularly to acquaint themselves first-hand with the working of our much-cherished democracy cannot be denied that experience. Even if Parliament these days enacts more pandemonium, shouting matches, walk-outs and adjournments, ordinary Indians cannot be denied the right to witness their honourable representatives “at work”. If the members are concerned about their public image suffering due to their antics, they can always improve their conduct and behave like model Parliamentarians. Meanwhile, the government should address some of the pressing issues which the attackers allege motivated them to take the extreme step.

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