Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Dangerous Trend

The Winter Session of Parliament, it seems, it doomed to go the way of the Monsoon Session that preceded it, with the Opposition, particularly the Congress, continuously disrupting business in both houses. As a result, serious and important legislation, the most important of which is the Goods and Service Tax (GST) Bill, is stuck, and that is hurting the country. The Congress, which seemed quite promising as an opposition party in 2014, when it formed shadow ministries, has completely disavowed the political process of the country, using its numbers in the Rajya Sabha to stonewall virtually all legislation.

But of course, none of this was invented by the Congress. The ultimate villain is now Finance and I&B Minister Arun Jaitley, who invented the 'disruption as a tactic' theory, and the Congress has merely taken it to its logical conclusion. Then, the BJP would disrupt Parliament over the massive corruption of the UPA government; now, the Congress is disrupting Parliament for any reason they can find - a new reason a day! Ironically, one of the reasons was the alleged corrupt dealings of the Congress' top two leaders themselves! This tactic, together with the draconian anti-defection law introduced by Rajiv Gandhi, have made Parliament moot - the BP government has previously used the executive route, and Jaitley has indicated that they may have to do that again.

All this is eerily similar to the history of the Weimar Republic in Germany. In fact, it may be worse, as BJD MP Jay Panda wrote that the Rajya Sabha's powers to derail a democratically elected government is unprecedented in the world, and the opposition is making full use of it. Today, the Congress has figured out that it can stop all legislation until it returns to power; in 2019, the cycle would repeat. A dangerous trend is forming, one which will end only in the end of the Indian Republic.

Only two people can arrest this trend: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari, who have the constitutional duty to run their respective houses. Right now, the country faces a full-blown constitutional crisis that will only end with the abolition of the Constitution itself. These two officers must invoke constitutional powers and put it to an end - once and for all. Mahajan used some of those powers in the Monsoon session, and even though it backfired on the government, it did ensure some work was processed. Much more powers must be exercised, even if it means short-term pain, if democracy is to be saved from the Congress.

Ansari and Mahajan stand at a historic juncture when the Constitution is in their hands. Time will judge them for their actions today, forever. 

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