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Sonia is wrong, government is in Coma, so house is dead

Author: Yashwant Sinha
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: May 2, 2013
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/opinion/comments-analysis/Sonia-is-wrong-government-is-in-Coma-so-house-is-dead/articleshow/19826040.cms

Economic Times has, in recent days, castigated the BJP for disrupting Parliament. Your call to BJP is to allow Parliament to function, debate issues and, if we are still dissatisfied, bring a no-confidence motion against the government.

Your admonition is entirely in order except for the fact that it is terribly one-sided. You will agree that there are more parties than one involved in the smooth functioning of Parliament.

I can recount those numerous occasions on which we in the BJP have remained quiet and glued to our seats but other parties have disrupted the functioning of Parliament. On those occasions too, the BJP has been blamed directly or indirectly with the entire Opposition. What is worse is that even when the ruling party members have disrupted the proceedings, the blame has fallen on the BJP.

Please recall a single instance where you have blamed the ruling party members for disrupting Parliament, yet many of us can recall many such instances. Let us analyse what happened on April 30. In the all-party meeting with the Speaker, it was decided unanimously that we would allow the Lok Sabha to function to pass the financial Bills relating to the Budget.

It was also agreed that the leader of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, would be allowed by the Speaker to explain the reasons why the BJP was walking out of the House. The leaders of the other parties in Opposition would similarly be allowed to explain if they wanted to walk out or participate in the debate on the Bills if they so wished. So, as soon as the House assembled, the leader of Opposition, with the permission of the Speaker, took the floor and started her speech. Naturally, what she was saying was not palatable to the ears of the Congress party members.

So, some of them started heckling her. She continued nonetheless. Then, Sonia Gandhi got into the act and incited her party members to heckle and disturb her more. It was at this stage that senior members of the Cabinet, such as Kapil Sibal, Kamal Nath, Pawan Bansal and others, stood up and started to disrupt her speech. Then the unimaginable happened. The Speaker turned off Sushma Swaraj's microphone. The leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha was effectively gagged. Sonia Gandhi was also leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha when we were in government.

She also occasionally participated in debates and read out her dull speeches. According to Rule 349(xi) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha, "a member, while speaking, shall not read a written speech except with the previous permission of the Chair". Despite the violation of this rule by Sonia Gandhi repeatedly, she was never interrupted even once by our members, much less by the ministers of the government. However offensive her speech, we all sat quietly and listened to whatever she had to say.

Could you ever imagine Atal Bihari Vajpayee or LK Advani instigating our party members to disturb her? What happened to Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday has happened to most of us earlier. I remember one occasion when, at her instigation, the Congress members disrupted my speech and the House had to be adjourned. How can you say anything when a hundred or more members start disturbing your speech after every sentence?

The observance of rules by the ruling-party members is far more important than by the other members of the House because it is the primary responsibility of the ruling party to ensure that Parliament functions.

Your concern about the passage of important legislations is fully shared by me. But we cannot go and beg the government to bring these Bills in Parliament and get them passed. I cannot recall a single occasion when anyone in government made any effort to forge a consensus with us and other parties after Parliament went into recess on March 22.

In any case, the government is in government because it enjoys a majority in Lok Sabha. Why does it not use its majority to get the Bills passed? Why does it always blame us for non-passage of the Bills? The fact of the matter is that the government is in deep coma with multi-organ failure. There is no hope of its survival. It is not the duty of the Opposition to provide it with life support.

(The writer is senior BJP leader and former finance minister)
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