New year holds promises of new direction to functioning of democracy with new parliament

New Delhi: A New Year’s morning is a customary and solemn occasion to reflect on the past and resolve on the way forward, based on experience and lessons learned. Such ideas and new proposals are more appropriate and timely to bring about a change in the functioning of Parliament. Also, when the country’s supreme legislature is moved to a new building in the new year – 100 years after the present one begins to take shape. Also, in 2022, 75 years of independent India will be completed. This opportunity cannot be missed in the collective search for a new normal for the functioning of our Parliament, the temple of democracy.

A new building by itself does not add much value to the functioning of Parliament, unless accompanied by a new work ethic to restore its stature. Unfortunately, the virus of disruption that infected the top legislature nearly 20 years ago remains endemic and has become more severe over the years. Given the difference in composition, it is suffering to both the Houses to varying degrees.

The last two sessions of Rajya Sabha have left a bitter taste with productivity of only 28% and 47% respectively. With an annual productivity of 58.9%, 2021 is the second worst for the Upper House, which hit the nadir in 2018 with a productivity of 36%. Its two worst-performing years came during the past four years. It is, therefore, a matter of grave concern, which requires equally serious contemplation and introspection to find a new normal of functioning to justify a new Parliament Complex.

Parliament functions in a definite political environment and hence it is a political institution. Political motives affect the functioning of different sections of the Houses of Parliament. Protest is a part of political rivalry which is integral to the functioning of legislatures. But the constant disruption, disregard for the sanctity of the rules and the authority of the Speaker, derail the functioning of the House, destroy the democracy, which the people of India chose as the vehicle of transformation of their lives, as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution. has gone.

Frequent interruptions and forced adjournments compromise the quality of legislation, further eliminating the important “monitoring” function of the House. Under the constitution the executive is answerable to the legislature. This oversight is ensured through Question Hour, Short Term Discussion (SDD), Calling Attention Notice (CAN) and debate on legislative proposals.

Interruptions have rendered the House inactive, with a large part of the scheduled available time lost in the form of forfeitures. With the legislative business traditionally taking precedence, there is not enough time left for SDD and CAN. The winter session halted discussion on price hikes, and debate only passed over Omicron’s wrath. The Rajya Sabha lost more than 60% of the Question Hour during the winter session and lost even more during the monsoon session.

Parliamentary democracy enables the participation of the people in governance through their elected representatives. Swaraj, for which a long freedom struggle was waged, is all about the people ruling themselves. It is the representative work of the legislatures. Quality debates constitute the act of deliberation.

The disregard for these four functions by the legislatures – representative, deliberating, oversight and law-making – amounts to a definite rejection of the spirit and provisions of the Constitution. The time has come to address this worrying parliamentary deficit as independent India prepares to enter its 76th year, and Parliament moves to a new building. It should not be difficult if only legislators remind themselves of the oath of allegiance to the Constitution.

Democratic functioning is all about debate and deliberation. A functional democracy enables the presentation of diverse perspectives and even the hottest political rivalries on the floor of the House. A disruptive and noisy alternative, which is currently on the show, is his denouement. No one wins in an uproar.

The root cause of the disruptions appears to be a growing discord between the political mission and the parliamentary project. All political parties need to remind themselves that they too are bound by the Constitution. The parties that win the mandate rule, while others command a responsible and constructive opposition. The people who decide the composition of the law making bodies are the responsibility of both the parties. It is this sense of collective responsibility that makes Parliament functional.

Parliament should not be seen only as an extension of politics. Politics should advance the cause of the parliamentary project. This new politics is the need of the hour.

Politics and Parliament, each with a specific mission, are integral parts of democracy. The mission of politics is to win the mandate with the promise of improving the quality of life of the people. The mission of Parliament is to delineate the path for the realization of such promises. In short, these two missions complement each other and are not mutually exclusive. Then why the strife and disturbance? The problem is in drawing a line between resist and impedance constraints.

It then logically follows that there is a need for a synchronous vibration between the political mission and the Parliament. It is with this resonance that we need to enter the new year with the resolve that this consent is a symbol of our Parliament functioning in the new grand structure so that our parliamentary democracy shines in a new grandeur. Hopefully, we will get a new Parliament. A sense of harmony among different sections of Parliament, guided by the new politics to uphold the national mission, is the key to this much-awaited resonance. Argue and decide. Don’t break democracy.