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Parliament Logjam : A National Loss

 

 

The Monsoon Session has been washed out amid a scuffle between the ruling party and opposition. Over almost six Lok Sabha sessions, the kind of public time that has been wasted for important legislation amounts to more than 2000 hours  which adds up to almost Rs 3,000 crore over these years which is nothing but a national loss. The Winter Session has proved to be worse than the Monsoon Session with daily non-stop disruptions and adjournments. Parliament has been turned into a general akhada with absence of debates and only adjournments. In 1841, the British Prime Minister Lord Derby said in the House of Commons “The duty of an opposition is very simple; to oppose everything and propose nothing”. This holds true in today’s political situation in India. In Britain we hardly find members waving placards, shouting, challenging speaker, walkouts. But in India it’s the opposite as if our constitution itself guarantees shouting, waving placards, walkouts as an important element under right to freedom and parliamentary proceedings. Well, disruption in parliament is India’s version of tradition.

 

The present hyped deliberation on the issue of GST has simply reduced the debate into petty “prestige war” with Opposition opposing it and resulting it into another set of “policy paralysis”. The GST is a long pending indirect tax reform which India has been waiting for, and which is hoped to iron out the wrinkles in the existing tax system. GST can boost the Indian economy as well as it can prove to be a game changer for the common man, as it provides-

  • Simpler tax structure: As multiple taxes on a product or service are eliminated and a single tax comes into place it will lead to reduction in accounting complexities for businesses. Experts opine that the implementation of GST would push up GDP by 1 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
  • Increased tax revenues to the Government: A recent report by Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited states that GST is the country’s best bet to improve the fiscal health of the country. Hence GST can prove to be a game changer for the Indian economy.
  • Competitive pricing and boost in export sector: GST will eliminate all other forms of indirect taxing. This will effectively mean that the tax paid by the final consumer will come down in most cases. Lower prices will help in boosting consumption, which is again beneficial to companies.

If implemented, GST is clearly a long term strategy; it would lead to a higher output, more employment opportunities, and economic inclusion of the country in long run. Not just GST but several pro-poor legislation are lined up in parliament but due to political alignment it has been pending for enactment. It’s a fact that democracy cannot function at the whims and fancies of anyone and one must remember that the primary function of the Indian parliament is to enact laws.

It’s unfortunate that in the temple of democracy issues outside the ascendancy of parliament are being raised to impede parliament. The issue of National Herald is one such example. It is piteous that so-called national party is behaving in such an illogical manner as how can a call by a court  in the National Herald case be called political vendetta. This is beyond the comprehension. Such issues are outside the purview of the constitutional deliberation still given space to stall parliament. In such cases, the speaker should act tough and suspend the member who continuously raise an issue which is outside the ascendancy of the parliament .Political parties must create a common national interest agenda which there is clear consensus. On subtle issues, parties must not use whips and each member of parliament must vote on his conscience. Such rational steps if initiated can certainly bring the logjam to an end.

The parliamentary system speech delivered by Pt. Nehru on March 28, 1957 should be a model for those opposing for personal gains- “Here, we have sat in this Parliament, the sovereign authority of India, responsible for the governance of India. Surely, there can be no higher responsibility or greater privilege than to be a member of this sovereign body which is responsible for the fate of the vast number of human beings who live in this country”.

 

*Writer is the Media President of Delhi University Students Union

 

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