With elections to nine state assemblies scheduled this year, and for the Lok Sabha next summer, political parties should attempt to derive maximum advantage of the opportunity. Frequent interruptions and disruptions can be counter-productive over time and the current Budget session offers a fresh opportunity for the opposition to play its role in an effective manner as the country enters the home stretch towards general elections.
The Budget session of Parliament got underway on Tuesday with the customary address of President Droupadi Murmu to Members of both the Houses of Parliament. The address, first by the new President of the Republic, unveiled the policies and programmes of the Narendra Modi government for the year ahead.
Recommended ArticlesView All
Bottomline | SEBI ticks the right boxes, but…
Apr 1, 2023 IST4 Min(s) Read
India’s foreign trade policy aims to make rupee stronger — here’s how it may work
Mar 31, 2023 IST5 Min(s) Read
IT increments this year will be the lowest in a decade — sans 2020, finds survey
Mar 31, 2023 IST3 Min(s) Read
Data Security in BFSI: How to strengthen cybersecurity in the financial services industry
Mar 31, 2023 IST5 Min(s) Read
It preceded the presentation of the last full Budget of the Modi government before the general elections next year. These two important events in the parliamentary calendar will become the basis around which discussion and debate will happen during the session.
For the past two decades, Parliament came up with an unique arrangement through which Budget outlays of different Ministries are discussed threadbare by the Standing Committees of jurisdiction. Based on the post-examination reports, the Lok Sabha deliberates on the proposals before the passage of the Union Finance Bill
The primary focus of the Budget session remains on securing parliamentary approval that will allow the government to draw monies from the treasury and then depending on its priority bring up Bills for enactment.
Opposition tone for the session was set on the opening day when two parties, the Aam Aadmi Party and the nascent Bharat Rashtra Samiti, boycotted the President’s address to protest the government failure.
Now, over the last few years attempts by the opposition to corner the government on its policies did not have much impact on two counts – steady depletion of numbers in Parliament of members belonging to parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the inability of the heterogenous political parties with different interests to work together.
Today, the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance is a pale shadow of the formation that ran the government for a decade and the opposition faces a huge challenge in the form of the BJP. Every party explores the way forward with regional parties working on a strategy to retain its bases and keep the BJP away. These form the backdrop for members of different parties organising its priorities in Parliament.
Priorities and differences in approach of parties in the opposition combined with a strong bench strength, permits the BJP to work its way through parliamentary procedures. It is here the collective opposition requires to work with imagination and bring about greater parliamentary oversight and scrutiny. Over the past few sessions, there is a perceptible change in the tactics with the majority of the parties in the opposition resorting to walk-out as a mark of protest instead of stalling the proceedings.
Forcing adjournments and disrupting proceedings of Parliament, a strategy once justified by late Arun Jaitley in his role as the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, becomes counterproductive over time. While forcing adjournment can result in drawing attention, employing this tactic frequently denies opposition an opportunity to question the government.
In addition, backed by data about productivity and waste of precious resources due to loss of parliamentary time, people start to raise questions over the efficacy of the system.
There are parliamentary devices that can be employed by the opposition to put the government on the mat. Debate and discussions on important issues of public concern should find space amid contrarian views. On this count, the opposition has been crying hoarse that the government stonewalls meaningful discussion on issues such as the two-year long situation on the Sino-Indian border.
With elections to nine state assemblies scheduled this year, and for the Lok Sabha next summer, political parties will attempt to derive maximum advantage of the opportunity. Those in the government will project the work done and promises kept while the ones in the opposition would seek to drive home a narrative on policies and programmes that did not work.
In this context, the current session would offer a glimpse of the strategy adopted by parties on either side of the aisle with the Congress members returning in full strength after the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Needless to add, the Congress members would be buoyed by the success of the Yatra that culminated on Monday. There should be fresh spring in the feet of the party leaders and its members and find reflection during the session.
The party will also strive to reaffirm its leadership status in Parliament and rally around members of like-minded parties to work in a cohesive manner. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, remains engaged in this direction with regular meetings in his chamber.
As the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Kharge has been able to convince leaders of other parties in the opposition to imperative of raising their voice collectively. The initiative also blunted resistance of opposition parties to be bracketed with the Congress after Sonia Gandhi handed over the leadership to Rahul Gandhi.
As the saying goes, in a parliamentary democracy, the role of the opposition is to oppose, expose and if possible, depose the government. As former President Pranab Mukherjee observed, electoral defeat does not change that role.
—The author, KV Prasad,
is a senior journalist and has earlier worked with The Hindu and The Tribune. Views expressed are personal.
Read his previous articles here
(Edited by : C H Unnikrishnan)
Check out our in-depth Market Coverage, Business News & get real-time Stock Market Updates on CNBC-TV18. Also, Watch our channels CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNBC Bajar Live on-the-go!