Aug 152013

My column in last Thursday’s DNA

The monsoon session of Parliament has started. There is thunder, and lightning, the road ahead seems to be full of potholes, ditches. The lights have gone off and navigation is difficult. The 40 odd bills that lie before Parliament seem doomed to remain ignored by our esteemed Parliamentarians who have better things to discuss than mere bills. So, as the monsoon fury is unleashed within Parliament, here is a quick A to Z of the monsoon session.
Adjournment – “Parliament is Adjourned” seems to be the most popular headline. Our esteemed Parliamentarians are so outraged at the State of the Nation that they want to go to TV studios to discuss what ails the Nation. Bills can wait.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – the principle opposition party, that hopes to form the next Government. It has an excellent complement of Parliamentary debaters – if only there weren’t that many adjournments, their speakers would get to shine.
Central Bureau of Investigation, also known as the caged parrot. The Government’s continued control of the CBI and its rejection of the SC’s demand for complete autonomy was one of the things that was to be discussed and deliberated in this session of Parliament.
Durga Shakti Nagpal – the IAS officer suspended for doing her job in UP. The newest reason for proceedings in Parliament to be brought to a grinding halt . The Samajwadi Party’s stand is ‘our right to do what we want in our fiefdom. After all, other parties have done the same’. Instead of discussing how to free up administration from arbitrary politicians, more arbitrary behaviour on display.
Elections – coming soon at a constituency near you – the greatest tamasha of the next five years. Watch out for people who you have not seen in the last five years, and are unlikely to see in the next five years, make you promises that will put a snake oil salesman to shame. Parliamentary work plays second fiddle to election mode behaviour.
Food Security Bill – the Government’s flag ship programme that was promulgated as an Ordinance last month. Debated in studios and op-ed columns, but yet to be debated by Parliament.
Government – that is supposed to deliver governance. There is a litany of governance failures over the last 4 years, from roads not built to disaster management that is not in place, from equipment for the armed forces to an economy that is on the brink. MP’s ought to be discussing this in detail. But, studios are definitely more interesting, and require less preparation.
Households – Indian families that are bearing the brunt of inflation, of an economic slowdown and of fewer jobs being created. Parliament should be discussing and debating this.
Indian National Congress – the largest constituent of the current UPA government, that hopes to form the next Government, despite the last 4 years
Janta Dal United (JDU) – the party of conspiracy theories. From claiming political opponents poisoned the mid day meal, to Lalu Prasad Yadav is colluding with Narendra Modi – the party is trying its best to ensure that silliness becomes the hallmark of statecraft. It’s actions in Parliament reflect the same.
KCR, K Chandrashekar Rao, Member of Parliament, Leader of the Telengana Rashtra Samiti, and the person whose actions have got Parliament into an uproar.
Legislation – the outcome of Parliamentary deliberations .
Manmohan Singh – the Prime Minister. A person whose should have spoken up 4 years ago. M is also Meira Kumar, speaker – whose most famous lines are “baith jaayiye” (please sit down)
Narendra Modi – the man leading the BJP into the next general elections. Though he is not member of Parliament, his shadow looms large.
Opposition –practically everyone, including some on the Government benches
Parliament – Only Parliament is empowered to make laws, said Parliamentarians, at the height of the Jan Lok Pal Agitations. But, bills when they are presented to Parliament, are seldom discussed in detail, when voted on, are symbolised by absenteeism.
Quattrocchi – A name that has stalled many previous Parliaments. Will not stall this one, because he died earlier this year.
Rajya Sabha – the council of elders. Currently home to Sachin Tendulkar.
Samajwadi Party – if a Bollywood film maker represented a political party with these attributes, it would be said that the film industry is caricaturising politicians and showing the political system in a poor light. But, they exist and have ambitions of doing to India what they are doing to Uttar Pradesh
Television – around 400 news TV channels exist, and our Parliamentarians are more keen on making an appearance to debate on Television, than turn up to work in Parliament.
Uproar – another common headline “uproar in Parliament”
Voters – that is the people of India, who have to make a choice next year. BJP? Congress? Third Front ? Fourth Front? NDA 2? UPA 3? – who will it be for the next five years? Parliament is seen as an extended promo for the elections.
Winner – the trouble is that all parties are looking at sharing spoils. Unless the two main parties aim to win a majority on their own, this level of grandstanding in Parliament will continue.
X factor – that unique attribute that makes voters gravitate towards leaders. Works well in a Presidential system, but its effect is yet to be known in a Parliamentary System where dynastic politics and caste equations hold sway at the ballots.
Youth – it is estimated that over a 100 million first time voters will be casting their vote in the next elections. It seems unlikely that the post reform generation will vote the same way as their elders. MP’s seeking re-election will do well to address this audience while they make their appearances in Parliament
Zero Hour – where MP’s can raise matters that matter without prior intimation. But, the entire Parliamentary session is a giant zero hour. Maybe it is time to have one day in a working week for Parliamentary business, and declare the remaining four as extended zero hours.

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