Is the Parliament deadlock by the INDIA group members helping the BJP?

The INDIA group members have created a deadlock in the Parliament demanding the prime minister's statement. But did this help the Opposition?

Is the Parliament deadlock by the INDIA group members helping the BJP?

Since the formation of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) at the meeting of the opposition parties held with much fanfare in Bengaluru, the Opposition has trained its guns against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially since the start of the monsoon session of the Parliament. The INDIA group members have created a ruckus in the Parliament to disrupt the sessions and, in doing so, they have allegedly helped the government in passing several bills, which are labelled as “anti-people” by Modi critics.

The INDIA group members have raised the demand for a statement from the prime minister on the situation in Manipur. They have created a stalemate in both houses, which allowed the government to easily pass several important bills in the monsoon session of the Parliament. Notable among the bills passed are the Mines and Minerals (Development and Restrictions) Amendment Bill, 2023, the Forests (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023, etc. Now the question is whether the INDIA group members are helping the BJP by fussing over Manipur in the Parliament.

Earlier, a video of a Kuki woman being stripped naked and gang-raped in Manipur went viral in July. Since then, the Opposition has been raising concerns over the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur that started in the first week of May, and they have started attacking the BJP, the ruling party of the state and the union, accusing it of abetting the violence and being nonchalant regarding the lives of the people.

The prime minister condemned the crime against women in Manipur at the start of the parliamentary session; however, he did that outside the parliament, while speaking to the press. Modi has not yet made any statement in any house of the Parliament on the situation in Manipur. Although his deputy, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has informed the Parliament that the government is ready to discuss all issues, including Manipur violence, the Opposition is still not interested in anything other than Modi’s statement.

As a result, the tension between the Opposition and the government has intensified in the ongoing monsoon session of the Parliament, and the public interest has suffered. With the passage of the Mining Bill, the government paved the way for strengthening private ownership of mines and mineral resources, by amending the Cinematography Act it empowered the Censor Board to ban any film or even OTT series deemed “anti-national”, and cleared the way for real forests to be cleared for corporate interests in the name of forest conservation. Despite allegations of these bills harming public interest, the INDIA group members didn’t discuss these issues in the Parliament, rather they created a deadlock and walked out. As a result, the BJP was able to pass all these bills very easily.

The Parliament session is held by spending millions of rupees paid by the people of the country through direct and indirect taxes. There have been allegations that more ordinances are being passed than bills in the Parliament during the BJP’s rule and the Parliament’s working hours, and length of sessions are being reduced to curtail debates and embarrassment for the government. Why are the INDIA group members not protesting inside the Parliament about the prime minister not wanting to discuss the various uncomfortable issues? Why aren’t they exposing the purported “anti-people” characters of the bills? Why isn’t the Opposition resisting the passage of the bills and registering their protest against them?

Without doing all this, if the opposition leaves the Parliament to allow the laws brought in the interests of the corporates to be passed unhindered, then will the interests of the people be protected? And as a result of such activities, can the INDIA group members increase their influence on the people? Can they prove their credibility as the Opposition?

The INDIA group is a rainbow alliance. In the past too—during the 2019 general elections—such alliances were attempted to fend off the BJP, but Modi played the cards of Hindutva and jingoism to polarise the voters and the BJP won the ride by a landslide. The 2024 general elections are only a few months away. In the meantime, if the INDIA group members can’t intensify their resistance, if they can’t fight the government on the policy front by offering alternatives, and if it continues to stay outside the Parliament, providing leeway to the BJP inside the houses, will they ever manage to win the support of the majority to depose the current dispensation?

During the upcoming winter session, most of the leaders in the Parliament will be out as assembly elections will be held in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. As a result, the monsoon session was the first and last chance after the formation of the INDIA group to strengthen the policy opposition to the Modi government and to oppose and block controversial bills in the Parliament. And since the session will be over in just a few days, now it will be seen whether the INDIA group members can walk the talk or just turn their backs.

The editorial board of East Post is responsible for the columns published in the Editorial section. This column expresses the organisation's views.

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