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Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020 12:00 [IST]

Last Update: Wednesday, Sep 23, 2020 06:24 [IST]

Let there be peace

On Sunday, amid scenes of chaos and uproar, the RajyaSabha passed two of a set of three controversial bills related to India's agriculture sector. But not without much drama and dissent.
The Bills were passed amid a major ruckus by opposition parties. The Bills, which seek to replace the two ordinances promulgated on June 5 this year and which were already cleared by the LokSabha, were passed by voice vote in the Upper House. The House witnessed tumultuous scenes during the passage of the contentious farm bills as members from Opposition parties snatched and threw papers from the table and even broke the chairman’s mic.
Pandemonium in the Houses of Parliament is nothing new. Angry members troop down to the well of the House and shout slogans. It has almost become normal behaviour in the Houses.
The general public normally disapproves of unconventional conduct by members of parliament inside the House. But before blaming the members, it would be useful to analyse the causes of protest and the resultant pandemonium. It can be said without any fear of contradiction that often, strong resentment is caused by the stubborn attitude of the government in a particular issue such as the refusal to allow a discussion on what the opposition considers to be an important issue or the passing of a controversial Bill in haste, ignoring the opposition’s demand to refer the same to a committee for a detailed examination etc.
If these are the issues, they can be easily tackled by the government being a little flexible and accommodating towards the opposition. Governments are often found less accommodating and more stubborn. Everyone should remember the famous dictum: “In a parliamentary system, the opposition should have its say and the government will have its way.” If this practised in real life, our parliaments will get back to being a forum of calm and mature debates.
Two points emerge from the Sunday’s happenings in the RajyaSabha. One, the farm Bills were passed during the extended time without arriving at a consensus in the House. When the House has to extend its sitting beyond the scheduled time, the sense of the House is taken by the chairperson. This is the time-honoured practice. If there is no consensus on an extended sitting, the chair normally adjourns the House for the next day. It is not clear whether any attempt was made by the chair or the minister for parliamentary affairs to build a consensus on this matter.
A government which has a majority in parliament has nothing to fear. Parliament can function smoothly only if the crudity of bitter adversarial politics is discarded ant the stakeholders elevate themselves to a higher level. Parliament’s systems are designed to enable the opposition to have its say and the government to have its way. If the former is not possible, parliament as a democratic institution cannot survive for long.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi