Parliament logjam stalls Lokpal?
The first two days of Parliament have seen the proceedings being stalled leading to adjournments. Those who are surprised by this development must be extremely naïve since the script of the Winter Session has already been written and many prominent players in several parties are determined to see that the Lokpal Bill does not come up for any discussion. If it still comes up, it will be solely on account of pressure exerted on parties from outside.
Personally speaking I do not think an Ombudsman can tackle wide spread corruption in this country. I also do not believe that any entity, which has no accountability to the people directly, should be constituted in this country since Parliament represents the will of the people and is supreme in Parliamentary democracy. There are enough mechanisms to deal with corruption and if the government is perceived to be corrupt, it can be removed through a vote in Parliament. If Judges or other key functionaries are corrupt, they can be dealt with through either impeachment in Parliament or through other administrative processes.
A Lokpal simply does not serve any purpose except that it may lead to escalation in corruption rates. No right thinking person can endorse corruption but is Lokpal the answer is a matter of serious debate. If majority are convinced, there is no option left but to accept it as an Institution but as I said earlier personally I have strong doubts that this arrangement can work in a country where if you are caught accepting a bribe, you can go scot-free by giving another bribe.
Coming back to Parliament, the way things have started indicates that the BJP is keen to project itself as a big opposition party instead of showcasing itself as a responsible party of the future. If its present performance continues, people will take it seriously and when the next election comes, elect its members to sit once again in opposition. After all, its leaders think that this is the way the opposition should behave and thus woo the people’s support.
The BJP’s dilemma is that it has not been able to erase the perception that its leaders are playing a “friendly game with the Congress” in Parliament. The party has not made any major effort to corner the government on issues and has even allowed it to get away. Last winter session was lost with the BJP holding up proceedings. The budget session saw, the party bailing the Congress out on the Pensions Bill. In the Monsoon session, the debate on price rise was held in a ‘cordial atmosphere’ with the BJP leaders agreeing not to take a vote on the issue.
Now, the principal opposition party wants to support an adjournment motion on price rise and corruption by the Left parties. It is therefore not a matter of surprise that the opposition space has been appropriated by Anna Hazare and his team since the principal opposition party has been found wanting.
One wonders why the BJP does not bring forth a no-confidence motion on the issue of price rise and corruption, which will put on record who stands where on this matter. In Parliament, you sometimes have to score a political point for future gains and even if you are unable to knock down the government, the notice is at least served to it to reform itself in the future. Nothing of this nature is being done.
The Congress is of course happy that despite facing a whole lot of critical questions on various scams, it has managed to keep itself afloat, even if it has been to some degree because of some sort of “help” from the BJP.
I have been thinking very hard on how things stand today. Dr Manmohan Singh, originally an appointee of the Congress president, who subsequently got the mandate in 2009 polls, heads the government. Two leaders, both appointees of LK Advani, head the opposition. In other words, in Parliament today, the leadership is not natural but foisted. Therefore, there is not much to expect from the treasury and opposition benches as both have their limitations. The Congress to move forward has to see beyond Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. Similarly, the BJP to march ahead has to look at politics beyond the Advani era. This is not happening and that is why the system is failing us.
I have maintained that elections to Lok Sabha may be held in 2012 since the government’s functioning is neither smooth nor streamlined. For the BJP to become an alternative, it has to act in a more responsible manner.
Otherwise, the Congress and BJP may find themselves marginalized during the next polls and regional parties may become stronger since politics does not operate in vacuum. This of course may lead to a period of instability and another round of elections could follow. Let us see what the future holds for us.