Monday, December 13, 2010

Wasted or Not, We Shall See

The Winter Session of Parliament was a washout, with not a single days' worth of work being taken up. The reason is the logjam over the Opposition's demand for a JPC into the 2G Spectrum scam, arguably Independent India's biggest scam.

On one side, the Opposition, primarily the BJP and the CPM but also other smaller parties and even the Trinamool Congress (a UPA constituent), is determined to force a JPC. On the other, the Congress is equally determined not to constitute a JPC.

The reasons for the Congress' stubborn attitude are varied: it could be that there is some genuine wrongdoing on their part; or, it could be sensitive to the fact that the UPA, being a minority Government, will be a minority on a JPC and that could be very embarrassing. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.

Nonetheless, as LK Advani put it, sometimes doing nothing can also yield results. The logjam cost Parliament a lot, but the whole issue has brought to fore the face of corporate lobbying in India, which, unlike in the US, is still hidden and/or ignored. Radiagate, as the whole issue is being called, has left the credibility of some of India's celebrity-journos in tatters. A CBI investigation and a Supreme Court case are on to bring out the truth. Yet, the legitimate demand of the Opposition for a JPC cannot be ignored, because only a JPC an make recommendations and rules to prevents such a thing for ever happening again.

Sadly, the loss of the Winter Session saw some key bills - including ones related to sexual abuse and higher education - being dropped, with only appropriation bills being passed, that too by voice vote. The BJP plans to take the issue into the Bidget Session too: this is highly undesirable. One lost session is bad enough, but two or more is pushing the limits of democracy. There are other instruments available to the houses of Parliament to reign in the Government and the Opposition should explore those. Continued impasse is just not the way forward.

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