The BJP in the past has batted for disruption of the Parliamentary proceedings as “form of democracy”.
The monsoon session of Indian Parliament has been eventful so far. From opposition parties throwing papers, holding banners and raising slogans, the session has been engulfed in chaos followed by repeated adjournments of both houses. Amid important issues like rising inflation, farmers’ protest, and mismanagement of the second Covid wave, the Pegasus ‘snooping’ story has added more fuel to the fire. The ‘United Opposition’ has made sure that they would not participate in discussions as long as their concerns are not addressed. The monsoon session of parliament, since it began, has been marked by protests from the opposition and demands for discussions on the Pegasus phone-hacking row, the farm laws and other issues.
However, the ruling BJP has hit out at the opposition parties, especially the Congress, for trying to defame the country by not letting the Parliament function.
Accusing the grand old party of not allowing the monsoon session of parliament to function, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday attacked the Congress, and asked BJP MPs to “expose the party before the public and the media”.
The Prime Minister, addressing a meeting of the BJP’s parliamentary party, accused the Congress of deliberately spurning attempts at resolving an impasse that has seen hardly any work in this session of parliament.
For a layman, the ruling BJP’s argument that the disruption of Parliament functioning hampers the growth of our country can sound reasonable. After all, crores of rupees are spent from the taxpayers money for these sessions of parliament to take place. If the houses are adjourned without any substantial work being done, it’s the taxpayer’s loss, right? Well, not necessarily. It’s not us who are saying this. The ruling saffron party, when it was in opposition, had said this.
But before that, let’s look at some of the instances when the houses were adjourned because of the opposition ruckus. However, the opposition in these cases, comprised of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
According to an India Today report from 13 August 2013, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power, the upper house of Parliament was adjourned after opposition members raised a ruckus over black money.
Besides the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha was also adjourned for the second time, this time till 2 p.m., after opposition members raised a ruckus, the report said.
Earlier, the house was adjourned till 12 noon after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members demanded that black money stashed abroad be brought back, the report added.
Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the house after BJP members refused to allow proceedings to be run and rushed to the Speaker’s podium, it added.
The Upper house witnessed BJP’s agitation on the issue as yoga guru Baba Ramdev has threatened a “revolution” unless the government brings back black money stashed abroad, it said.
According to the report by The Hindu on 10th December 2013, the Lok Sabha was adjourned after MPs shouted slogans over JPC report on the 2G scam.
Speaker Meira Kumar then adjourned the house till 12 noon and later for the whole day.
In the Rajya Sabha, members shouted out proceedings over the Joint Parliamentary Committee report on the 2G spectrum issue.
Chinese Incursions & Coal-Gate
As reported by NDTV on 30th April 2013, both houses of parliament were adjourned after BJP uproar over Chinese incursion and demand for Prime Minister’s resignation on Coal-Gate.
On 3rd May 2013, India Today reported that the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha were again disrupted over the coal block allocations and Chinese incursion in Ladakh.
In both the houses, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) persisted with its demand for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over irregularities in the allocation of coal blocks, while the Samajwadi Party raised slogans over the incursion by Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Depsang area, the report said.
Robert Vadra deal
According to the report by HT on 13th March 2013, Both Houses of Parliament were disrupted as BJP MPs created a ruckus over Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s land deals in Rajasthan, which “violated” the Land Ceiling Act there.
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were adjourned twice and later, BJP members stormed the well seeking a probe into Vadra’s land deals.
BJP Leaders On Adjournments
As mentioned earlier, the BJP in the past has batted for disruption of Parliament as “form of democracy”. When successive sessions were disrupted by the BJP during the UPA regime, late Sushma Swaraj, then leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, had declared that “not allowing Parliament to function is also a form of democracy, like any other form”.
Her counterpart in the Rajya Sabha, late Arun Jaitley, had justified the opposition demands for the resignation of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the stalling of parliamentary proceedings following the controversy over the allocation of coal blocks. “By disrupting Parliament, we have given out a message to the country,” he had said. “When we disrupted Parliament three years back on 2G scam, the telecom sector was cleaned. Now, the country is faced by the issue, how to clean up the entire process of allocation of resources.”
According to Mr Jaitley, disruption should not have been described as preventing work from being done, because what they were are doing was “very important work itself.”
In context of current deadlock
Now that we know that opposition disrupting the functioning of Parliament is a “form of democracy”, thanks to the two BJP stalwarts, the current deadlock in Parliament does not come across a new affair for Indian polity.
The Congress, along with 13 other opposition parties, has turned the tables on the ruling BJP, giving the saffron party a taste of its own medicine.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Modi government will pay heed to the opposition demands and allow discussions on the issues raised by them.
It is also important to note that disruption of parliament by opposition does not necessarily count as an attempt to “defame” the country, as had it been the case, the BJP would have been guilty of the same in the past.