Parliamentary debate is the only option in a democracy but this can happen only if the house is allowed to function, according to political leaders across the spectrum, speaking after thirteen of the monsoon session’s 20 days were washed out due to the BJP’s raucous protests over alleged irregularities in the allocation of coal mining blocks.
IANS spoke to a dozen political leaders who slammed the disruptions that hurt the legislative business, with only four key of the 32 listed bills passed.
The only lone voice in favour of the disruptions was the BJP’s. This was expected as the Bharatiya Janata Party has been demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s resignation and cancellation of allocations after a CAG report said private parties had windfall gains worth Rs 1.85 lakh crore in the allocation of 142 coal blocks by the UPA government 2006-09.
But most parties favoured a debate over disruption and said parliament is the right forum to bring out the truth in any issue seizing the nation.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said the BJP did not allow a debate as the opposition party knew it would be exposed in parliament. “The BJP did not allow a debate as it knew it would be exposed in parliament,” he said.
UPA partner National Conference said the logjam was a waste of time and energy and the BJP had made a mockery of parliament. “The BJP has made a mockery of parliament,” Sharifuddin Shariq told IANS.
TR Baalu a leader of UPA partner DMK, said parliament should have debated the issue. “We wanted a debate,” he said.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which support the UPA from outside, also favoured a debate. SP leader Shailendra Kumar said there should have been a discussion.
“There should have been a discussion. Without a discussion, how will the facts be known? The way parliament was disrupted is wrong,” he said.
BSP leader Satish Chandra Misra had similar views. “It was for the government and the opposition to end the logjam but the house should have functioned,” he added.
The RJD attacked the BJP for causing the disruptions every day.
“In a parliamentary democracy, debate is the only option,” its leader Ram Kripal Yadav said.
As per data provided by the government, 77 percent of the Lok Sabha’s time and 72 percent of the Rajya Sabha’s time was wasted this session. While the Lok Sabha worked for 24 hours out of the 108 hours scheduled, Rajya Sabha worked for 26 hours out of the scheduled 90 hours.
The monsoon session saw the houses functioning only on the first seven days since it began on 8 August.
The 13 day loss meant Rs.29 crore (nearly $6 billion) went down the drain, considering that Rs.25 lakh is spent an hour on an average for a parliament sitting.
According to the Biju Janata Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab, the BJP was making parliament irrelevant.
“The BJP is making parliament irrelevant. Burning issues like internal security, farmers’ plight, price rise and economic slowdown were relegated to the background,” Mahtab told IANS.
Janata Dal-Secular leader N. Chaluvaraya Swamy said his party also wanted a debate in parliament.
The Left parties too blamed the BJP for not allowing the parliament to function.
“We want cancellation of the coal blocks and a judicial probe into the matter but the parliament should have debated the issue,” said Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury.
Communist Party of India leader D Raja blamed both the Congress and the BJP for the logjam.
“To run the parliament is primarily the responsibility of the government. But the opposition has an equally important role.”
Telugu Desam Party leader Nama Nageshwara Rao, who protested along with SP and the Left parties for the parliament to be resumed again, said the guilt of the government could have been established through a debate in parliament.
Demanding action against the guilty, the Asom Gana Parishad MP Kumar Deepak Das said his party want the guilty to be identified.
“The guilty should be identified whether it is the minister or an official, he should be punished,” he said.
But BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar reasoned the disruptions casued by his party.
Disruption of parliament was due to adamancy of Congress…it is the duty of the ruling party to reach out to opposition,” he told IANS..
The saffron party’s ally Janata Dal-United also said parliament should have been allowed to function. But had a rider: debate are not conclusive enough.
“Parliament should function but previous debates on 2G spectrum and CWG scams bore no result,” JD-S MP Bhudeo Choudhary said.