Adding one more first unfortunately all in negative term the monsoon session of parliament ended with acrimony among treasury and opposition benches. First of all this session was unique in the sense that for the first time in the history of our parliament the question hours was done away. Asking questions by the members and replying them to their satisfaction by the ministers and grilling the minsters through supplementaries is the essence of democracy. Asking question is the basic right of every member but at the name of Covid 19 this right was snatched away by them. Thus the members lost the opportunity to ask questions on Indo China border dispute falling economy failures to curb Covid pandemic ,migrant labours and their plight farm distress etc. Even at the last day which usually has scenes of good will gestures friendship and coffee session opposition parties held three protests and leader of opposition in upper house Ghulam Nabi Azad rushing to Rashtrpati Bhavan requesting president of India not give his assent to agriculture reforms bills passed by both houses but that created a very ugly scene in upper house where members were protesting and in the din the bill was declared passed with voice vote even though a CPIM member was demanding voting overlooking this demand is against constitutional and parliamentary practice but this is one more first of Modi government one more black feather in his government’s cap.
Not only agriculture reforms bill but labour reform bill affecting crores of toiling masses was also passed without proper and meaningful discussion in the house. Parliament passed three bills related with labours while opposition has boycotted the session one day before on issue of agriculture reform bill. But the government ignoring not only the demand of opposition to send these bills to select committee but even their absence in the house was not deemed necessary by the government and it went on with its well thought out strategy to get these bills passed. As a last ditch efforts opposition leaders wrote a letter to Vice President and Chairman of the house Venkaiah Naidu saying “the bills affecting crores of labours were passed in absence of opposition parties and it will be a blot on our democracy to have these bills passed unilaterally” but who cares? Eight bills were passed in Rajya Sabha amid opposition boycott. This shows the respect and importance of opposition in the eyes of Modi government.
Both Lok sabha and rajya sabha were adjourned sine die. This is being term as the shortest session in India’s parliamentary history. However, it was packed with 25 bills opposition boycott and extra ordinary situation even inside the house where members were sitting maintaining social distance due to Covid 19. Speaker Om Birla said that inspite of shortage of time the session was most successful as far as productivity of the session is concerned. According to him LoK Sabha productivity clocked at 167% with 25 bills passed 2300 “unstarred questions” answered ( written reply of the question put forward by members) 68% of the sittings dealing with legislative work and 370 zero hours mentions.
Speaker Om Birla has every right to pat his back but the fact remains that what so ever may have been the productivity rate of the session this session will go down in the history of our parliamentary democracy where so many bills and that too of very important nature directly related with the interest of our farmers and toiling labours were passed in hurry without taking opposition members into confidence .Side lining opposition members not giving them any importance and going away with passing bills may sound death knell for our democracy. It is done in the countries where there is one party rule where opposition is not acceptable and where there is “controlled democracy”. One of the most learned member of Lok sabha an intellectual, a writer and a coloumnist Dr. Shashi Tharoor asks “is the government willing to destroy temple of democracy” Eight bills passed in Rajya Sabha in a flurry with no opposition present that is a travesty of constitution. Despite the truncated nature of the session this innings of parliament will be remembered for three distinctive trends that emerged first misstep in planning second misguided policy making and third this governments misdemeanours. he said.
The ordinance route normally meant to be used in extraordinary situation and circumstances but Modi government with the help of always willing President of India has used it quite frequently and to give these ordinances the shape of law the government has to get them passed by parliament in six months so the government adopted this undemocratic path but it has sent a very wrong message and has put a question mark on the functioning of our vibrant democracy .Are we heading to a one party rule where only majority in lower house (Lok Sabha) will be sufficient enough to convert our multi party democracy into elected dictatorship?