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What shouldn't have been heard, at least in Parliament

What shouldnt have been heard, at least in Parliament

Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury bursts into a loud laughter in her usual style hearing the Prime Minister’s claims about Aadhar. Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu admonishes her. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi likens Chowdhury to a character in serial ‘Ramayana’.

With that, the Opposition gets irked and creates a ruckus. This was probably the inappropriateness, which could be described as a relatively innocent one among the speeches by the PM, during the motion of thanks to the President's address. The people who are responsible for safeguarding the standard of Parliamentary debates themselves downgrade it. This should be seen with utmost seriousness, especially when it is the Prime Minister who leads the way. The President’s address every year in the joint session of Parliament is also a document of the government’s policy positions. It is the debates on it combined with the views of the Opposition that pave way to the budget session of the house of the people. As a reply to the debates, the Prime Minister provides justifications for the government policies and clarifications on queries. That is how the assemblies and the people understand the government’s approaches towards the main issues faced by the nation. The President addressed the Parliament this time as well. The Opposition posed questions. But when the Prime Minister used his speech to insult the Opposition, not only Parliamentary precedent, but also the right of the people to know the government’s stances, was violated.

Like the Congress the main opposition party pointed out later, the Prime Minister’s address was reminiscent of the public speeches during the election campaigns. Biding time criticising those who ruled before, even four years into office, carries no small inappropriateness. Besides the inappropriateness, attempts for false campaigns as well on the part of the Prime Minister was unfortunate. He presented a distorted history, a la those of the hardline right wingers, for those who expected an explanation of the government’s policy positions. It consisted of the most irresponsible statements that could be uttered by a person occupying the most responsible position from the most sanctified platform. History says that the statement "if Sardar Patel had been allowed to become India’s first Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru, all of Kashmir would have been India’s", is totally incorrect. It was Nehru who had wanted to merge Kashmir with India whenPatel was of the view that it was better to merge it with Pakistan. When the country’s Prime Minister makes baseless remarks in the Parliament, it is not he alone who is being a subject of ridicule - but even the Parliament is put to shame. When he insults the Opposition that it divided the people of the country, one could not lose sight of the fact that a major part of those allegations strike the mirror of history and reflects the present ruling party as well. Another statement that faced much ridicule was about the public sector enterprises which are in loss. The statistics arrayed by the Prime Minister to criticize the Congress are not of the enterprises that ran in loss but of the loans given by public sector banks. On the other hand, the Prime Minister failed to see the figures which showed that the loss incurred by the public sector undertakings doubled during the second year of Modi governance.

Prime Minister’s speech which lacked relevance, objectivity and respect towards the Opposition, turned the Parliament into a platform for election campaigns like never before. In order to restore the sanctity of the house, the solution is for the government to adopt corrective measures as soon as possible. Respecting the Opposition is the core of Parliamentary democracy. Indian democracy would not benefit by ignoring the questions raised by the Opposition or by not winning their trust. Appropriate moves to pay heed to the Opposition and to make them co-operate should take place on the part of the government. The Prime Minister should be ready to carry out an introspection. The Opposition too, is bound to co-operate for the effective conduct of parliamentary proceedings.

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