|There’s a crisis out there|
|Friday, 12 August 2011 00:00|
Every morning, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said at a press conference, the party’s core parliamentary committee meets and takes a decision on whether to allow Parliament to function that day. So, presumably, if the BJP is upset with Ajay Maken’s remarks or by the fact that its youth wing demonstrators were lathi charged, it will decide that the government has no right to have a functioning Parliament that day, in the same manner it has decided home minister P Chidambaram has no right to be there after the lathi charge on BJP youth-wing demonstrators. Little wonder then that hardly any business gets done in Parliament. The current session has already lost 47% of the time available in the Lok Sabha and 51% of the time in the Rajya Sabha. It will be a big surprise if it passes more than a handful of the 35 Bills that are slotted for passing—the Budget session had 78 Bills pending before it began and 81 when it ended; the winter session had 71 pending when it began and 78 when it ended. Pathetic as this record is, it’s better than last year’s winter session when the Lok Sabha worked for just 5.5% (yes, that’s five point five per cent) of the time available and the Rajya Sabha for 2.4% of the time available. Swaraj and her colleagues will do well to keep in mind that, according to PRS Legislative Research, despite the Bofors issue, the 8th Lok Sabha worked for more than 100% of the allotted time—that is, MPs worked over-time. Of course, Swaraj’s colleague and former finance minister Yashwant Sinha is right when he says it is the government’s job to reach out to the Opposition to get Bills passed—with few of the major Bills even listed for passage, as FE has pointed out before, the government’s agenda is minimalist—but surely the principal Opposition has some responsibility?
The other thing the BJP seems to have missed is that there’s a huge economic crisis out there. There’s a one-in-four chance the US could slide into a recession but even without that frightening possibility, the fact is that every country, and that includes India, is a lot less prepared to deal with the current crisis as compared to the situation in 2008—the fiscal situation is not that great and, in the case of India, high inflation even restricts the possibility of monetary easing. The corruption debate on various CAG reports is a necessary one, but stretching it to ridiculous extents is akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burnt.