RIGHT ANGLE – Real Enemies of the Indian Institutions
Are the opposition parties genuinely concerned about the tragedies in Manipur or indulging in dirty politics in their tirade against the Modi government?
Predictably, the no-confidence motion brought against the Modi government by the opposition parties under the leadership of the Congress has failed. That it would fail was never in doubt, given the overwhelming numerical majority of the ruling National Democratic Alliance in the Lok Sabha. What the opposition was looking for then was, what it said, to compel Prime Minister Modi to come to the Lok Sabha to answer on his government’s response to the ongoing unrest and disturbance in Manipur.
Whatever has happened and is happening in Manipur are, no doubt, matters of great national concerns. The opposition is fully entitled to seek answers from the central government in this regard. If the government were reluctant to do so, then the opposition would have been entitled to register its protests, both inside and outside the Parliament. But that was not exactly how things happened throughout this session of the Parliament.
Right from the very beginning, the Modi government has been talking of a full-fledged discussion on Manipur. But the opposition under the leadership of the Congress demanded discussions under some specific rules and that too in the presence of the Prime Minister. And this was despite the clarification given by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha that there has been neither precedent nor rules that will summon the Prime Minister to the House and force him to speak on a subject.
Unconvinced, the opposition nearly paralysed the function of the Parliament for most of the time and the government had no alternative than to pass some of the important bills passed amid din and chaos in both of the Houses. The opposition’s sole demand was discussions on “Manipur (under their terms and conditions) or nothing”.
Were the opposition parties genuinely concerned about the tragedies in Manipur or indulging in dirty politics in their tirade against the Modi government? It seems that it was the latter that they were interested in. Had that not been so, how come after boycotting all the debates and discussions on some of the vital bills related to fishermen, Sc and STs, and forest under the plea for their tears for Manipur, all of them came in full strength to defeat the Bill on the Services relating to the Delhi government?
This question is significant. If your concerns for Manipur are really genuine, then you would have boycotted even the debate and discussions on the Services Bill. That would have been a matter of consistency by the opposition parties. But that was not the case. They were so determined to defeat the Services Bill that they even brought former ailing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a wheel chair to vote in the Rajya Sabha. It was important for them politically as the support of the AAP, the party in power in Delhi Assembly, is important for fighting the national elections together next year.
That the opposition parties were shedding crocodile tears for the people of Manipur was further evident when they left the Lok Sabha when the Prime Minister was replying to their motion of no-confidence.
They had demanded the Prime Minister’s interventions on Manipur through their no-confidence motion, but they did not have time and patience to listen to him!
In so doing, the opposition was actually insulting the institution of Parliament. It does not observe rules; it does not obey the Chairs; it does not allow parliament to deliberate on legislations, its foremost duty; it does not allow the ministers and political opponents to speak. In fact, the list of such activities can be expanded. The opposition is not bothered that its actions in paralyzing the parliament are costing the nation of crores of rupees that are spent every hour when the Parliament is in session.
In other words, the opposition’s actions are devaluing the sanctity of Parliament as an institution in a democratic country that India is.
But, another vital institution of a parliamentary democracy like ours that the Opposition parties have done their best to harm and devalue in the process is the principle of collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers.
It may be noted here that the governance of India is carried out in the name of the President who acts in accordance with the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers as whole, not the Prime Minister singularly.
In fact, the principle of collective responsibility is the fundamental principle underlying the working of the parliamentary system of government. Article 75 clearly states that the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. This means that all the ministers own joint responsibility to the Lok Sabha for all their acts of omission and commission. They work as a team and swim or sink together.
The principle of collective responsibility also means that the Cabinet decisions bind all cabinet ministers (and other ministers) even if they differed in the cabinet meeting. It is the duty of every minister to stand by cabinet decisions and support them both within and outside the Parliament.
It means that for every action of the Government of India, every cabinet minister owes responsibility or accountability. He or she cannot say that he or she is not responsible or accountable for a decision taken by another cabinet minister. This applies to the Prime Minister too.
So, for any decision or action on Manipur taken by the central government, every cabinet minister is equally responsible. If the Home Minister, who deals with internal security and hence Manipur, takes a decision on behalf of the government, then the whole union cabinet is responsible or accountable for it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, thus, bound by the decision of Amit Shah. The vice versa is equally true. In that sense, action taken by Amit Shah is the action of the whole cabinet led by Prime Minister Modi.
Thus, if the opposition wanted to know about Manipur, then it does not matter whether it is Shah or Modi who answers their questions. There cannot be any difference between Shah and Modi on the Manipur issue as long as both are in the Council of Ministers. Therefore, by insisting that only Modi can answer, not Shah, on Manipur, the opposition is striking at the very bases of the Council of Ministers as an institution.
Nothing can be more perverse than this scenario. Yet all these opposition parties call them democratic and allege that under Modi, vital institutions of India are getting eroded. On the one hand, these “great minds” are kind enough to believe in the importance of negotiations and compromise on difficult issues by the contending parties. But for them, if one of the contending parties happens to be the Modi government, then there is no question of any compromise and the government must surrender.
For them, debates, so essential for any true democracy, are welcome as long as these are not based on ground realities, facts and figures. Debates for these “great minds” can only be based on assumptions and presumptions, which will be repeated day in and day out to be projected as “their” facts.
Since these “great minds” are not in power, they “will” oppose even those things that they themselves had demanded or envisaged when they “were” in power in the past.
For these “great minds”, Indian democracy is live for the likes of Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee or for that matter any communist or UPA(now I.N.D.I.A) Chief minister when the central government’s role is limited only to the extent of providing them unlimited money but not demanding any accountability. For them, federalism, an important dimension of Indian democracy, is in danger if the Modi government transfers money directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
Federalism is also endangered for them when their officials and machineries in the states under their control can take actions against their opponents but BJP governments in other states cannot do likewise against their supporters. In their ruled states even if more women have been raped, more murders have taken place, more arsons have been caused by the ruling party goondas, they cannot be touched under the federal principle; but Manipur must be brought under President’s rule by dismissing the BJP-led government in Imphal.
For these “great minds”, the judiciary in general and the Supreme Court in particular must deliver judgments on the basis of what one Rahul Gandhi or one Mamata Benerjee says on a given issue. If the Court does its job and pronounces its verdict to the contrary, then that is because of a judicial-takeover by the Modi government.
Similarly there are free and fair elections in India as long as the Congress and its friends/ allies win. The moment BJP wins, then the Election Commission is “sold out” for manipulating the electronic voting machines.
Considering the above, do these “great minds” really value the country’s vital institutions? Are they really friends or foes of these institutions? I am leaving these questions to the readers to answer.